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University of California Berkeley 

Gift of 
THE FAMILY OF ROBERT BRUCE PORTER 

AND 

HELLER CHARITABLE 
AND EDUCATIONAL FUND 



THE LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 

LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA MADRAS 
MELBOURNE 

THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

NEW YORK BOSTON CHICAGO 
DALLAS SAN FRANCISCO 

THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD. 

TORONTO 







yfjKftry fames? 

twin if by fv/trt J.Jat 



THE LETTERS 

OF 

HENRY JAMES 



SELECTED AND EDITED BY 

PERCY LUBBOCK 



VOLUME I 



MACMILLAN AND CO., LIMITED 
ST. MARTIN'S STREET, LONDON 

1920 



COPYRIGHT 



GLASGOW: PRINTED AT THE UNIVERSITY PRESS 

BV ROBERT MACI.EHOSE AND CO. LTD. 



CONTENTS 

PAGE 

INTRODUCTION xiii 

NOTE .......... xxxii 

I. FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS : 1869-1874 

PREFACE 1 

LETTERS : 

To Miss Alice James . . . , . 15 

To his Mother 19 

To his Mother 21 

To William James 24 

To William James 26 

To his Father 28 

To Charles Eliot Norton .... 30 

To his Parents 32 

To W. D. Howells 33 

To Miss Grace Norton 35 

To his Mother 38 

II. PARIS AND LONDON : 1875-1881 

PREFACE 41 

LETTERS : 

To his Father 45 

To W. D. Howells 47 

To William James 50 

To William James 52 

To Miss Grace Norton 54 

To Miss Grace Norton 56 

To William James 59 



vi CONTENTS 

II. PARIS AND LONDON: 1875-1881 continued 

LETTERS : PAGE 

To Miss Alice James 62 

To William James 65 

To his Mother 67 

To Miss Grace Norton 69 

To W. D. Howells 71 

To Charles Eliot Norton .... 74 

To his Mother 76 

To Mrs. Fanny Kemble .... 78 

III. THE MIDDLE YEARS : 1882-1888 

PREFACE 82 

ETTERS I 

Miss Henrietta Reubell .... 90 

Charles Eliot Norton .... 91 

To Mrs. John L. Gardner .... 92 

To Miss Grace Norton 93 

To William James 97 

To George du Maurier 98 

To Miss Grace Norton 100 

To William James 102 

To W. D. Howells 103 

To John Addington Symonds . . .106 

To Alphonse Daudet 108 

To Robert Louis Stevenson . . . .110 

To William James Ill 

To Miss Grace Norton 113 

To William James 115 

To James Russell Lowell .... 118 

To William James 119 

To Charles Eliot Norton .... 122 

To Miss Grace Norton 126 

To Edmund Gosse 130 

To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 131 
To Robert Louis Stevenson . . . .133 

To W. D. Howells 135 

To Robert Louis Stevenson . . . .138 

To William James 140 



CONTENTS vii 

IV. LATER LONDON YEARS : 1889-1897 

PAGE 

PREFACE 146 

LETTERS i 

To Robert Louis Stevenson . . . .154 

To William James 156 

To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 157 
To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 160 

To William James 163 

To W. D. Howells ... .166 

To Miss Alice James 169 

To William James ... .173 

To Edmund Gosse 175 

To Mrs. Hugh BeU . 176 

To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 177 
To William James . . 183 

To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 185 
To Charles Eliot Norton . . 187 

To Edmund Gosse 189 

To Mrs. Mahlon Sands .... 190 

To Mrs. Humphry Ward . . 191 

To Robert Louis Stevenson . . .192 

To Robert Louis Stevenson . .194 

To the Countess of Jersey . . 196 

To Charles Eliot Norton . .197 

To W. D. Howells ... .202 

To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 203 
To Mrs. Edmund Gosse. . . 206 

To Edmund Gosse ... .207 

To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 209 
To Robert Louis Stevenson .... 213 
To William James ... .216 

To Julian R. Sturgis 217 

To George du Maurier 218 

To William James . . ... 219 

To Edmund Gosse 223 

To Edmund Gosse 226 

To Edmund Gosse 227 

To Edmund Gosse 228 

To Sidney Colvin 230 



viii CONTENTS 

IV. LATER LONDON YEARS: 1889-1897 continued 

LETTERS : PAGE 

To Miss Henrietta Reubell .... 231 

To WiUiam James 233 

To George Henschel 236 

To W. D. Howells 236 

To William James 239 

To Sidney Colvin 243 

To Mrs. John L. Gardner .... 244 

To Arthur Christopher Benson . . . 247 

To W. E. Norris 249 

To William James 251 

To Edmund Gosse 253 

To Jonathan Sturges 256 

To W. E. Norris 257 

To Arthur Christopher Benson . . . 259 

To the Viscountess Wolseley .... 261 

To Miss Frances R. Morse .... 262 

To Mrs. George Hunter 265 

To Edward Warren 268 

To Arthur Christopher Benson . . . 269 

To Mrs. William James 270 

To Miss Grace Norton 275 

V. RYE : 1898-1908 

PREFACE 279 

LETTERS : 

To W. D. Howells 284 

To Arthur Christopher Benson . . . 285 

To William James 287 

To Miss Muir Mackenzie .... 290 

To Gaillard T. Lapsley 292 

To Paul Bourget 293 

To W. D. Howells 298 

To Madame Paul Bourget .... 300 

To Miss Frances R. Morse .... 301 

To Dr. Louis Waldstein .... 304 

To H. G. Wells 305 

To F. W. H. Myers 307 



CONTENTS ix 

V. RYE: 1898-1903 continued 

LETTERS : PAGE 

To Mrs. William James 309 

To Charles Eliot Norton .... 313 
To Henry James, junior . . . .317 

To A. F. de Navarro 319 

To Edward Warren 323 

To William James 323 

To Howard Sturgis 325 

To Mrs. Humphry Ward .... 326 

To Mrs. Humphry Ward .... 328 

To Mrs. Humphry Ward .... 332 

To Mrs. A. F. de Navarro .... 336 

To Sidney Colvin 338 

To Edmund Gosse 340 

To Miss Henrietta Reubell .... 341 

To H. G. Wells 343 

To Charles Eliot Norton .... 345 

To Edmund Gosse 352 

To Mrs. Everard Cotes 354 

To A. F. de Navarro 356 

To W. D. Howells 357 

To W. D. Howells 362 

To W. E. Norris 369 

To A. F. de Navarro 372 

To W. E. Norris 374 

To A. F. de Navarro 376 

To the Viscountess Wolseley .... 377 

To William James 379 

To Miss Muir Mackenzie .... 381 

To W. D. Howells 383 

To Edmund Gosse 386 

To Miss Jessie Allen 387 

To Mrs. W. K. Clifford 389 

To Miss Muir Mackenzie .... 390 

To Edmund Gosse 393 

To H. G. WeUs 396 

To Percy Lubbock 398 

To Gaillard T. Lapsley 399 

To Mrs. Cadwalader Jones 403 



x CONTENTS 

V. RYE: 1898-1903 continued 

LETTERS : PAGE 

To W. D. Howells 405 

To H. G. Wells 408 

To Mrs. Cadwalader Jones .... 409 

To H. G. Wells 412 

To Mrs. Frank Mathews .... 414 

To W. D. Howells 415 

To Madame Paul Bourget .... 418 

To Mrs. Waldo Story 419 

To W. D. Howells 421 

To William James 423 

To Miss Violet Hunt 432 

To W. E. Norris 433 

To Howard Sturgis 436 

To Henry Adams 438 

To Sir George O. Trevelyan .... 440 



ILLUSTRATION 

VOL. I. 
HENRY JAMES, FROM A DRAWING BY JOHN 

S. SARGENT, R.A Frontispiece 



INTRODUCTION 

WHEN Henry James wrote the reminiscences 
of his youth he shewed conclusively, what indeed 
could be doubtful to none who knew him, that it 
would be impossible for anyone else to write 
his life. His life was no mere succession of facts, 
such as could be compiled and recorded by another 
hand ; it was a densely knit cluster of emotions 
and memories, each one steeped in lights 
and colours thrown out by the rest, the whole 
making up a picture that no one but himself 
could dream of undertaking to paint. Strictly 
speaking this may be true of every human being ; 
but in most lives experience is taken as it comes 
and left to rest in the memory where it happens 
to fall. Henry James never took anything as 
it came; the thing that happened to him was 
merely the point of departure for a deliberate, 
and as time went on a more and more masterly, 
creative energy, which could never leave a sight 
or sound of any kind until it had been looked 
at and listened to with absorbed attention, 
pondered in thought, linked with its associations, 
and which did not spend itself until the remem- 
brance had been crystallised in expression, so 
that it could then be appropriated like a 
tangible object. To recall his habit of talk is to 
become aware that he never ceased creating his 
life in this way as it was lived ; he was always 
engaged in the poetic fashioning of experience, 
turning his share of impressions into rounded and 

xiii 



xiv INTRODUCTION 

lasting images. From the beginning this had 
been his only method of dealing with existence, 
and in later years it even meant a tax upon his 
strength with which he had consciously to reckon. 
Not long before his death he confessed that at 
last he found himself too much exhausted for 
the c wear and tear of discrimination ' ; and the 
phrase indicates the strain upon him of the mere 
act of living. Looked at from without his life 
was uneventful enough, the even career of a 
man of letters, singularly fortunate in all his 
circumstances. Within, it was a cycle of vivid 
and incessant adventure, known only to himself 
except in so far as he himself put it into words. 
So much of it as he left unexpressed is lost, 
therefore, like a novel that he might have written, 
but of which there can now be no question, since 
its only possible writer is gone. 

Fortunately a great part of it survives in his 
letters, and it is of these that his biography must 
be composed. The material is plentiful, for he 
was at all times a copious letter-writer, over- 
flowing into swift and easy improvisation to his 
family and to the many friends with whom he 
corresponded regularly. His letters have been 
widely preserved, and several thousands of them 
have passed through my hands, ranging from 
his twenty-fifth year until within a few days of 
his last illness. They give as complete a portrait 
of him as we can now hope to possess. His was 
a nature in which simplicity and complexity were 
very curiously contrasted, and it would need all 
his own power of fusing innumerable details into 
coherency to create a picture that would seem 
sufficient to those who knew him. Yet even his 
letters, varied as they are, give full expression 
to one side of his life only, the side that he shewed 
to the world he lived in and loved. After all the 
prodigal display of mind that is given in these 



INTRODUCTION xv 

volumes, the free outpouring of curiosity and 
sympathy and power, a close reader must still 
be left with the sense that something, the most 
essential and revealing strain, is little more than 
suggested here and there. The daily drama of 
his work, with all the comfort and joy it brought 
him, does not very often appear as more than an 
undertone to the conversation of the letters. It 
was like a mystery to which he was dedicated, 
but of which he shrank from speaking quite 
openly. Much as he always delighted in sociable 
communion, citizen of the world, child of urbanity 
as he was, all his friends must have felt that at 
heart he lived in solitude and that few were ever 
admitted into the inner shrine of his labour. There 
it was nevertheless that he lived most intensely and 
most serenely. In outward matters he was con- 
stantly haunted by anxiety and never looked 
forward with confidence ; he was of those to 
whom the future is always ominous, who dread 
the treachery of apparent calm even more than 
actual ill weather. It was very different in the 
presence of his work. There he never knew the 
least failure of assurance ; he threw his full 
weight on the belief that supported him and it 
was never shaken. 

That belief was in the sanctity and sufficiency 
of the life of art. It was a conviction that needed 
no reasoning, and he accepted it without question. 
It was absolute for him that the work of the 
imagination was the highest and most honourable 
calling conceivable, being indeed nothing less 
than the actual creation of life out of the void. 
He did not scruple to claim that except through 
art there is no life that can be known or appraised. 
It is the artist who takes over the deed, so called, 
'from the doer, to give it back again in the form 
in which it can be seen and measured for the first 
time ; without the brain that is able to close 



xvi INTRODUCTION 

round the loose unappropriated fact and render 
all its aspects, the fact itself does not exist for 
us. This was the standard below which Henry 
James would never allow the conception of his 
office to drop, and he had the reward of complete 
exemption from any chill of misgiving. His life 
as a creator of art, alone with his work, was one 
of unclouded happiness. It might be hampered 
and hindered by external accidents, but none of 
them could touch the real core of his security, 
which was his faith in his vocation and his know- 
ledge of his genius. These certainties remained 
with him always, and he would never trifle with 
them in any mood. His impatience with argu- 
ment on the whole aesthetic claim was equally 
great, whether it was argument in defence of the 
sanctuary or in profanation of it. Silence, seclu- 
sion, concentration, he held to be the only fitting 
answer for an artist. He disliked the idea 
that the service of art should be questioned 
and debated in the open, still more to see 
it organised and paraded and publicly cele- 
brated, as though the world could do it any 
acceptable honour. He had as little in common 
with those who would use the artistic profession 
to persuade and proselytise as with those who 
would brandish it defiantly in the face of the 
vulgar. 

Thus it is that he is seldom to be heard giving 
voice to the matters which most deeply occupied 
him. He preferred to dwell with them apart 
and to leave them behind when he emerged. 
Sometimes he would drop a word that shewed 
what was passing beneath ; sometimes, on a 
particular challenge, or to one in whom he felt 
an understanding sympathy, he would speak 
out with impressive authority. But generally 
he liked to enter into other people's thought and 
to meet them on their own ground. There his 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

natural kindliness and his keen dramatic interest 
were both satisfied at once. He enjoyed friend- 
ship, his letters shew how freely and expansively ; 
and with his steady and vigilant eye he watched 
the play of character. He was insatiable for 
anything that others could give him from their 
personal lives. Whatever he could seize in this 
way was food for his own ruminating fancy ; he 
welcomed any grain of reality, any speck of signifi- 
cance round which his imagination could pile 
its rings. It was very noticeable how promptly 
and eagerly he would reach out to such things, 
as they floated by in talk ; it was as though he 
feared to leave them to inexpert hands and felt 
that other people could hardly be trusted with 
their own experience. He remembered how much 
of his time he had spent in exploring their con- 
sciousness when he spoke of himself as a confirmed 
spectator, one who looked on from the brink 
instead of plunging on his own account ; but 
if this seemed a pale substitute for direct contact 
he knew very well that it was a much richer and 
more adventurous life, really, than it is given to 
most people to lead. There is no life to the man 
who does not feel it, no adventure to the man 
who cannot see the whole of it ; the greatest 
share goes to the man who can taste it most fully, 
however it reaches him. Henry James might 
sometimes look back, as he certainly did, with a 
touch of ruefulness in reflecting on all the experi- 
ence he had only enjoyed at second hand ; but 
he could never doubt that what he had he pos- 
sessed much more truly than any of those from 
whom he had taken it. There was no hour in 
which he was not alive with the whole of his 
sensibility ; he could scarcely persuade himself 
that he might have had time for more. And indeed 
at other moments he would admit that he had 
lived in the way that was at any rate the right 

6 



xviii INTRODUCTION 

way for him. Even his very twinges of regret 
were not wasted ; like everything else they helped 
to swell the sum of life, as they did to such purpose 
for Strether, the c poor sensitive gentleman ' of 
The Ambassadors, whose manner of living was 
very near his creator's. 

These letters, then, while they shew at every 
point the abundant life he led in his surroundings, 
have to be read with the remembrance that the 
central fact of all, the fact that gave everything 
else its meaning to himself, is that of which 
least is told. The gap, moreover, cannot be filled 
from other sources ; he seems to have taken 
pains to leave nothing behind him that should 
reveal this privacy. He put forth his finished 
work to speak for itself and swept away all the 
traces of its origin. There was a high pride 
in his complete lack of tenderness towards the 
evidence of past labour the notes, manuscripts, 
memoranda that a man of letters usually accumu- 
lates and that shew him in the company of his 
work. It is only to the stroke of chance which 
left two of his novels unfinished that we owe the 
outspoken colloquies with himself, since pub- 
lished, over the germination of those stories a 
door of entry into the presence of his imagination 
that would have been summarily closed if he had 
lived to carry out his plan. And though in the 
prefaces to the collected edition of his works we 
have what is perhaps the most comprehensive state- 
ment ever made of the life of art, a biographia 
literaria without parallel for fulness and elabora- 
tion, he was there dealing with his books in 
retrospect, as a critic from without, analysing 
and reconstructing his own creations ; or if he 
went further than this, and touched on the actual 
circumstances of their production, it was because 
these had for him the charm of an old romance, 
remote enough to be recalled without indiscretion. 



INTRODUCTION xix 

So it is that while in a sense he was the most 
personal of writers for he could not put three 
words together without marking them as his own 
and giving them the very ring of his voice yet, 
compared with other such deliberate craftsmen 
as Stevenson or Gustave Flaubert, he baffles and 
evades curiosity about the private affairs of his 
work. If curiosity were merely futile it would 
be fitting to suppress the chance relic I shall offer 
in a moment for it so happens that a single 
glimpse of unique clarity is open to us, revealing 
him as no one saw him in his life. But the 
attempt to picture the mind of an artist is only 
an intrusion if it is carried into trivial and in- 
essential things ; it can never be pushed too far, 
as Henry James would have been the first to 
maintain, into a real sharing of his aesthetic 
life. 

The relic in question consists of certain pencilled 
pages, found among his papers, in which he speaks 
with only himself for listener. They belong to 
the same order as the notes for the unfinished 
novels, but they are even more informal and 
confidential. Nothing else of the kind seems to 
have survived ; the schemes and motives that 
must have swarmed in his brain, far too numer- 
ously for notation, have all vanished but this one. 
At Rye, some years before the end, he began one 
night to feel his way towards a novel which he 
had in mind a subject afterwards abandoned 
in the form projected at first. The rough notes 
in which he casts about to clear the ground are 
mostly filled with the mere details of his plan 
the division of the action, the characters required, 
a tentative scenario. These I pass over in order 
to quote some passages where he suddenly breaks 
away, leaves his imaginary scene, and surrenders 
to the awe and wonder of finding himself again, 
where he has so often stood before, on the threshold 



xx INTRODUCTION 

and brink of creation. It is as though for once, 
at an hour of midnight silence and solitude, he 
opened the innermost chamber of his mind and 
stood face to face with his genius. There is no 
moment of all his days in which it is now possible 
to approach him more closely. Such a moment 
represented to himself the pith of life the first 
tremor of inspiration, in which he might be 
almost afraid to stir or breathe, for fear of break- 
ing the spell, if it were not that he goes to meet 
it with a peculiar confidence. 

I take this up again after an interruption I in fact 
throw myself upon it under the secousse of its being brought 
home to me even more than I expected that my urgent 
material reasons for getting settled at productive work 
again are of the very most imperative. Je m'entends I 
have had a discomfiture (through a stupid misapprehension 
of my own indeed ;) and I must now take up projected 
tasks this long time entrevus and brooded over, with the 
firmest possible hand. I needn't expatiate on this on 
the sharp consciousness of this hour of the dimly-dawning 
New Year, I mean ; I simply make an appeal to all the 
powers and forces and divinities to whom I've ever been 
loyal and who haven't failed me yet after all : never, 
never yet ! Infinitely interesting and yet somehow with 
a beautiful sharp poignancy in it that makes it strange and 
rather exquisitely formidable, as with an unspeakable deep 
agitation, the whole artistic question that comes up for me 
in the train of this idea ... of the donnee for a situation 
that I began here the other day to fumble out. I mean I 
come back, I come back yet again and again, to my only 
seeing it in the dramatic way as I can only see every- 
thing and anything now ; the way that filled my mind and 
floated and uplifted me when a fortnight ago I gave my few 
indications to X. Momentary side-winds things of no 
real authority break in every now and then to put their 
inferior little questions to me ; but I come back, I come 
back, as I say, I all throbbingly and yearningly and passion- 
ately, oh mon bon, come back to this way that is clearly the 
only one in which I can do anything now, and that will open 
out to me more and more, and that has overwhelming 
reasons pleading all beautifully in its breast. What really 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

happens is that the closer I get to the problem of the appli- 
cation of it in any particular case, the more I get into that 
application, so that the more doubts and torments fall away 
from me, the more I know where I am, the more everything 
spreads and shines and draws me on and I'm justified of my 
logic and my passion. . . . Causons, causons, mon bon oh 
celestial, soothing, sanctifying process, with all the high 
sane forces of the sacred time fighting, through it, on my 
side ! Let me fumble it gently and patiently out with 
fever and fidget laid to rest as in all the old enchanted 
months ! It only looms, it only shines and shimmers, too 
beautiful and too interesting ; it only hangs there too rich 
and too full and with too much to give and to pay ; it only 
presents itself too admirably and too vividly, too straight 
and square and vivid, as a little organic and effective 
Action. . . . 

Thus just these first little wavings of the oh so tremul- 
ously passionate little old wand (now !) make for me, I feel, 
a sort of promise of richness and beauty and variety ; a 
sort of portent of the happy presence of the elements. The 
good days of last August and even my broken September 
and my better October come back to me with their gage of 
divine possibilities, and I welcome these to my arms, I press 
them with unutterable tenderness. I seem to emerge from 
these recent bad days the fruit of blind accident and 
the prospect clears and flushes, and my poor blest old 
Genius pats me so admirably and lovingly on the back that 
I turn, I screw round, and bend my lips to passionately, 
in my gratitude, kiss its hands. 

To the exaltation of this wonderful unbosoming 
he had been brought by fifty years of devout 
and untiring service. Where so little is heard 
of it all, the amount of patience and energy that 
he had consecrated to it might easily be mis- 
taken. His immense industry all through his 
crowded London years passes almost unnoticed, 
so little it seems to conflict with his life in the 
world, his share in which, with the close friend- 
ships he formed and the innumerable relations 
he cultivated, could have been no fuller if he had 
had nothing to do but to amuse himself with the 
spectacle. In one way, however, it is possible 



xxii INTRODUCTION 

to divine how heavily the weight of his work 
pressed on him. The change that divides the 
general tone and accent of his younger and middle 
age from that of his later years is too striking to 
be overlooked. The impression is unmistakeable 
that for a long while, indeed until he was almost 
an old man, he felt the constant need of husband- 
ing and economising his resources ; so that except 
to those who knew him intimately he was apt to 
seem a little cold and cautious, hesitating to 
commit himself freely or to allow promiscuous 
claims. Later on all this was very different. 
There were certain habits of reserve, perhaps, 
that he never threw off ; all his friends remember, 
for example, how carefully he distinguished the 
different angles of his affection, so to call them 
adjusting his various relations as though in fear 
lest they should cross each other and form an 
embarrassing complexity. Yet any scruples or 
precautions of this sort that still hung about him 
only enhanced the large and genial authority of 
his presence. There seemed to have come a time 
when after long preparation and cogitation he 
was able to relax and to enjoy the fruit of his 
labour. Not indeed that his labour was over ; 
it never was that, while strength lasted ; but he 
gave the effect of feeling himself to be at length 
completely the master of his situation, at ease 
and at home in his world. The new note is very 
perceptible in the letters, which broaden out with 
opulent vigour as time goes on, reaching their 
best comparatively late. 

That at last he felt at home was doubtless 
indeed the literal truth, and it was enough to 
account for this ample liberation of spirit. His 
decision to settle in Europe, the great step of his 
life, was inevitable, though it was not taken 
without long reflection ; but it was none the less 
a decision for which he had to pay heavily, as he 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 

was himself very well aware. If he regarded his 
own part as that of an onlooker, the sense in which 
he understood observation was to the highest 
degree exacting. He watched indeed, but he 
watched with every faculty, and he intended that 
every thread of intelligence he could throw out 
to seize the truth of the old historic world should 
be as strong as instruction, study, general in- 
doctrination could make it. It would be useless 
for him to live where the human drama most 
attracted him unless he could grasp it with an 
assured hand ; and he could never do this if he 
was to remain a stranger and a sojourner, merely 
feeding on the picturesque surface of appearances. 
To justify his expatriation he must work his own 
life completely into the texture of his new sur- 
roundings, and the story of his middle years is to 
be read as the most patient and laborious of 
attempts to do so. Its extraordinary success 
need hardly be insisted on ; its failure, necessary 
and foredoomed, from certain points of view, 
is perhaps not less obvious. But the great fact 
of interest is the sight of him taking up the task, 
with eyes, it is needless to say, fully open to all 
its demands, and never resting until he could be 
certain of having achieved all that was possible. 
So long as he was in the thick of it, the task 
occupied the whole of his attention. He took 
it with full seriousness ; there never was a scholar 
more immersed in research than was Henry 
James in the study of his chosen world. There 
were times indeed when he might be thought to 
take it even more seriously than the case required. 
The world is not used to such deference from a 
rare critical talent, and it certainly has much less 
respect for its own standards than Henry James 
had, or seemed to have. His respect was of course 
very freely mingled with irony, and yet it would 
be rash to say that his irony preponderated. He 



xxiv INTRODUCTION 

probably felt that this, in his condition, was a 
luxury which he could only afford within limits. 
He could never forget that he had somehow to 
make up to himself for arriving as an alien 
from a totally different social climate ; for his 
own satisfaction he had to wake and toil while 
others slept, keeping his ever-ready and rebellious 
criticism for an occasional hour of relief. 

The world with which he thus sought to identify 
himself was a small affair, by most of our measure- 
ments. It was a circle of sensibilities that it 
might be easy to dismiss as hypertrophied and 
over-civilised, too deeply smothered in the veils 
of artificial life to repay so much patient attention. 
Yet the little world of urbane leisure satisfied him 
because he found a livelier interest, always, in 
the results and effects and implications of things 
than in the groundwork itself ; so that the field 
of study he desired was that in which initial 
forces had travelled furthest from their prime, 
passing step by step from their origin to the level 
where, diffused and transformed, they were still 
just discernible to acute perception. It is not 
through any shy timidity that so often in his 
books he requires us to infer the presence of 
naked emotion from the faintest stirrings of an 
all but unruffled surface ; it is because these 
monitory signals, transmitted from so far, tell a 
story that would be weakened by a directer 
method. The tiny movement that is the last 
expression of an act or a fact carries within it 
the history of all it has passed through on the way 
a treasure of interest that the act, the fact in 
itself, had not possessed. And so in the social 
scene, wherever its crude beginnings have been 
left furthest behind, wherever its forms have 
been most rubbed and toned by the hands of 
succeeding generations, there he found, not an 
obliteration of sharp character, but a positive 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

enhancement of it, with the whole of its past 
crowded into its bosom. The kind of life, there- 
fore, that might have been thought too trifling 
to bear the weight of his grave and powerful 
scrutiny was exactly the life that he pursued for 
its expressive value. He clung to civilisation, 
he was faithful throughout to a few yards of 
town- pavement, not because he was scared by 
the rough freedom of the wild, but rather because 
he was impatient of its insipidity. He is very 
often to be heard crying out against the tyrannous 
claims of his world, when they interfere with his 
work, his leisure, his health ; but at the moment 
of greatest revulsion he never suggests that the 
claims may be fraudulent after all, or that this 
small corner of modernity is not the best and 
most fruitful that the age has to shew. 

It must be a matter of pride to an English 
reader that this corner happened to be found 
among ourselves. Henry James came to London, 
however, more by a process of exhaustion than 
by deliberate choice, and plenty of chastening 
considerations for a Londoner will appear in his 
letters. If he elected to live among thick English 
wits rather than in any nimbler atmosphere, it 
was at first largely because English ways and 
manners lay more open to an explorer than the 
closer, compacter societies of the mainland. 
Gradually, as we know well, his affection was 
kindled into devoted loyalty. It remained true, 
none the less, that with much that is common 
ground among educated people of our time and 
place he was never really in touch. One has 
only to think of the part played, in the England 
he frequented, by school and college, by country- 
homes, by church and politics and professions, to 
understand how much of the ordinary conscious- 
ness was closed to him. Yet it is impossible to 
say that these limitations were imposed on him 



xxvi INTRODUCTION 

only because he was a stranger among strangers ; 
they belonged to the conditions of his being from 
much further back. They were implied in his 
queer unanchored youth, in which he and his 
greatly gifted family had been able to grow in 
the free exercise of their talents without any of 
the foundations of settled life. Henry James's 
genius opened and flourished in the void. His 
ripe wisdom and culture seemed to have been 
able to dispense entirely with the mere training 
that most people require before they can feel 
secure in their critical outlook and sense of pro- 
portion. There could be no better proof of the 
fact that imagination, if only there is enough of 
it, will do the work of all the other faculties un- 
aided. Whatever were the gaps in his knowledge 
knowledge of life generally, and of the life of 
the mind in particular his imagination covered 
them all. And so it was that without ever 
acquiring a thousand things that go to the making 
of a full experience and a sound taste, he yet 
enjoyed and possessed everything that it was 
in them to give. 

His taste, indeed, his judgment of quality, 
seems to have been bestowed upon him in its 
essentials like a gift of nature. From the very 
first he was sure of his taste and could account 
for it. His earliest writing shews, if anything, 
too large a portion of tact and composure ; a critic 
might have said that such a perfect control of his 
means was not the most hopeful sign in a young 
author. Henry James reversed the usual pro- 
cedure of a beginner, keeping warily to matter 
well within his power of management and this 
is observable too in his early letters until he 
was ready to deal with matter more robust. 
In his instinct for perfection he never went 
wrong never floundered into raw enthusiasms, 
never lost his way, never had painfully to 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

recover himself; he travelled steadily forward 
with no need of guidance, enriching himself 
with new impressions and wasting none of them. 
He accepted nothing that did not minister 
in some way to the use of his gifts ; whatever 
struck him as impossible to assimilate to these he 
passed by without a glance. He could not be 
tempted by any interest unrelated to the central 
line of his work. He had enough even so, he 
felt, to occupy a dozen lives, and he grudged 
every moment that did not leave its deposit of 
stuff appropriate to his purpose. The play of 
his thought was so ample and ardent that it 
disguised his resolute concentration ; he responded 
so lavishly and to so much that he seemed ready 
to take up and transform and adorn whatever 
was offered him. But this in truth was far from 
the fact, and by shifting the recollection one may 
see the impatient gesture with which he would 
sweep aside the distraction that made no appeal 
to him. It was natural that he should care 
nothing for any abstract speculation or inquiry ; 
he was an artist throughout, desiring only the 
refracted light of human imperfection, never 
the purity of colourless reason. More surprising 
was his refusal, for it was almost that, of the 
appeal of music and not wordless music only, but 
even the song and melody of poetry. It cannot 
be by accident that poetry scarcely appears 
at all in such a picture of a literary life as is 
given by his letters. The purely lyrical ear seems 
to have been strangely sealed in him he often 
declared as much himself. And poetry in general, 
though he could be deeply stirred by it, he in- 
clined to put away from him, perhaps for the 
very reason that it meant too forcible a deflection 
from the right line of his energy. All this careful 
gathering up of his powers, in any case, this 
determined deafness to irrelevant voices, gave 



xxviii INTRODUCTION 

a commanding warrant to the critical panoply 
of his later life. His certainty and consistency, 
his principle, his intellectual integrity by all 
these the pitch of his opinions, wherever he de- 
livered them, reached a height that was unfor- 
gettably impressive. 

I have tried to touch, so far as possible, on the 
different strains in Henry James's artistic ex- 
perience ; but to many who read these letters 
it will be another aspect altogether that his name 
first recalls. They will remember how much of 
his life was lived in his relations with his countless 
friends, and how generously he poured out his 
best for them. But if, as I have suggested, 
much of his mind appears fitfully and obscurely 
in his letters, this side is fully irradiated from 
first to last. Never, surely, has any circle of 
friendship received so magnificent a tribute of 
expressed affection and sympathy. It was 
lavished from day to day, and all the resources 
of his art were drawn upon to present it with due 
honour. As time goes on a kind of personal 
splendour shines through the correspondence, 
which only becomes more natural, more direct 
a communication of himself, as it is uttered with 
increasing mastery. The familiar form of the 
letter was changed under his hand into what 
may really be called a new province of art, a 
revelation of possibilities hitherto unexplored. 
Perfect in expression as they are, these letters are 
true extemporisations, thrown off always at great 
speed, as though with a single sweep of the hand, 
for all their richness of texture and roundness of 
phrase. At their most characteristic they are 
like free flights of virtuosity, flung out with 
enjoyment in the hours of a master's ease ; and 
the abundance of his creative vigour is shewn 
by the fact that there should always be so much 
more of it to spare, even after the exhausting 



INTRODUCTION xxix 

strain of his regular work. But the greater 
wonder is that this liberal gesture never became 
mechanical, never a fixed manner displayed for 
any and all alike, without regard to the particular 
mind addressed. Not for a moment does he 
forget to whom he is speaking ; he writes in the 
thought of his correspondent, always perceptibly 
turning to that relation, singled out for the time 
from all the rest. Each received of his best, but 
some peculiar, inalienable share in it. 

If anything can give to those who did not know 
him an impression of Henry James's talk, it will 
be some of the finest of these later letters. One 
difference indeed is immediately to be marked. 
His pondering hesitation as he talked, his search 
over the whole field of expression for the word 
that should do justice to the picture forming in 
his mind this gives place in the letters to a flow 
unchecked, one sonorous phrase uncoiling itself 
after another without effort. Pen in hand, or, 
as he finally preferred, dictating to his secretary, 
it was apparently easier for him to seize upon 
the images he sought to detach, one by one, 
from the clinging and populous background of 
his mind. In conversation the effort seemed to 
be greater, and save in rare moments of excep- 
tional fervour no one who heard him will forget 
how these recurred more and more in the last 
year of his life, under the deep excitement of the 
war he liked to take his time in working out 
his thought with due deliberation. But apart 
from this, the letters exactly reflect the colour 
and contour of his talk his grandiose courtesy, 
his luxuriant phraseology, his relish for some 
extravagantly colloquial turn embedded in a 
Ciceronian period, his humour at once so majestic 
and so burly. Intercourse with him was not 
quite easy, perhaps ; his style was too hieratic, 
too richly adorned and arrayed for that. But 



xxx INTRODUCTION 

it was enough to surrender simply to the current 
of his thought ; the listener felt himself gathered 
up and cared for felt that Henry James assumed 
all the responsibility and would deal with the 
occasion in his own way. That way was never 
to give a mere impersonal display of his own, but 
to create and develop a reciprocal relation, to both 
sides of which he was more than capable of doing 
the fullest justice. No words seem satisfactory in 
describing the dominance he exerted over any 
scene in which he figured yet exerted by no over- 
riding or ignoring of the presence of others, rather 
with the quickest, most apprehending suscepti- 
bility to it. But better than by any description is 
this memory imparted by the eloquent roll and 
ring of his letters. 

He grew old in the honour of a wide circle of 
friends of all ages, and of a public which, if small, 
was deeply devoted. He stood so completely 
outside the evolution of English literature that 
his position was special and unrelated, but it was 
a position at last unanimously acknowledged. 
Signs of the admiration and respect felt for him 
by all who held the belief in the art of letters, 
even by those whose line of development most 
diverged from his these he unaffectedly enjoyed, 
and many came to him. None the less he knew 
very well that in all he most cared for, in what 
was to him the heart and essence of life, he was 
solitary to the end. However much his work 
might be applauded, the spirit of rapt and fervent 
faith in which it was conceived was a hermitage, 
so he undoubtedly felt, that no one else had 
perceived or divined. His story of the Figure 
in the Carpet was told of himself ; no one brought 
him what he could accept as true and final com- 
prehension. He could never therefore feel that 
he had reached a time when his work was finished 
and behind him. Old age only meant an imagina- 



INTRODUCTION xxxi 

tion more crowded than ever, a denser throng of 
shapes straining to be released before it was too 
late. He bitterly resented the hindrances of ill 
health, during some of his last years, as an inter- 
ruption, a curtailment of the span of his activity ; 
there were so many and so far better books that 
he still wished to write. His interest in life, 
growing rather than weakening, clashed against 
the artificial restraints, as they seemed, of physical 
age ; whenever these were relaxed, it leaped 
forward to work again. The challenge of the 
war with Germany roused him to a height of 
passion he had never touched before in the outer 
world ; and if the strain of it exhausted his 
strength, as well it might, it gave him one last 
year of the fullest and deepest experience, perhaps, 
that he had ever known. It wore out his body, 
which was too tired and spent to live longer ; 
but he carried away the power of his spirit still 
in its prime. 



NOTE 

The best thanks of the editor are due to Henry 
James's family, and particularly to his niece, 
Mrs. Bruce Porter, for much valuable help. Mrs. 
Porter undertook the collecting and copying 
of all the letters addressed to correspondents 
in America ; and it is owing to her that 
the completion of these volumes, inevitably 
hindered by the war, has not been further delayed. 



FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS (1869-74) 

THE letters in this section take up the story of 
Henry James's life at the exact point to which 
he brought it in the second instalment of his 
reminiscences, Notes of a Son and Brother. It will 
be remembered that the third volume, The Middle 
Years, of which only a fragment was written, opens 
with his arrival in England in February 1869 ; and 
the first letter here printed is dated from London 
a few days later. But in evoking his youth it 
was no part of Henry James's design to write a 
consecutive tale, and the order of dates and 
events is constantly obscured in the abundance 
of his memories. For convenience, therefore, 
a brief summary may be given of the course of 
his early years. 

Henry James was born on April 15, 1843, at 
2 Washington Place, New York. He was the 
second child of his parents, the elder by a year 
being his brother William. The younger mem- 
bers of the family were Wilkinson (' Wilky '), 
Robertson ('Bob'), and Alice. Their father, 
Henry James the elder, was a man whose striking 
genius has never received full justice except at the 
hands of his illustrious sons, though from them with 
profound and affectionate admiration. He was 



2 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1869-74 

the most brilliant of a remarkable group of many 
brothers and sisters, whose portraits, or some of 
them, are sketched in A Small Boy and Others. 
Originally of Irish descent, the James ^family had 
been settled for a couple of generations in the 
State of New York, and in particular at Albany. 
The founder of the American branch had been a 
prosperous man of business, whose successful 
career left him in a position to bequeath to his 
numerous descendants a fortune large enough to 
enable them all to live in complete independence of 
the commercial world. Henry James the elder has 
been sometimes described as ' the Reverend,' but 
in fact he never occupied any position but that of 
a detached philosopher, lecturer, man of letters. 
To his brothers and their extensive progeny he 
was a trusted and untiring moral support of a 
kind that many of them distinctly needed ; the 
bereavements of the family were many, their 
misfortunes various, and his genial charity and 
good faith were an inexhaustible resource. His 
wife was Mary Walsh. She too belonged to a 
substantial New York family, of Scotch origin, 
several members of which are commemorated in 
A Small Boy. Her sister Katharine was for many 
years an inmate of the elder Henry's household, 
and to the end of her life the cherished friend 
of his children. 

The second Henry James has left so full 
and vivid a portrait of his father that it is 
unnecessary to dwell on the happy influences 
under which the family passed their youth. 
The ' ideas ' of the head of the house, as his 
remote speculations were familiarly known at 
home, lay outside the range of his second son ; 
but in the preface to a collection of papers, 
posthumously issued in 1884, they are sympa- 
thetically expounded and appraised by William 
James, whose adventurous mind, impatient of 



1889-74 FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS 3 

academic rules and forms, was more akin to his 
father's, though it developed on quite other lines. 
It is natural to speak of the father as a Sweden- 
borgian, for the writings of Swedenborg had been 
the chief source of his inspiration and supplied 
the tincture of his thought. He did not, how- 
ever, himself admit this description of his point 
of view, which indeed was original and uncon- 
ventional to the last degree. It was directed 
towards an ideal, to use William James's words, 
of 'the true relation between mankind and its 
Creator,' elaborated and re-affirmed in book after 
book, and always in a style so peculiarly vivacious 
and attractive that it is difficult to explain the in- 
difference with which they were received and which 
has allowed them to fall completely forgotten. 
To the memory of his father's courageous spirit, 
his serene simplicity and luminous humour, none 
of which ever failed in the face of repeated dis- 
appointment, the younger Henry, years later, 
devoted his beautiful tribute of art and piety. 

His recollections of childhood began, surpris- 
ingly enough, when he was little more than a 
year old. In the summer of 1844 the parents 
carried their two infants, William and Henry, 
for a visit to Europe, an adventure not altogether 
lost upon the younger ; for he actually retained 
an impression of Paris, a glimpse of the Place 
Vendome, to be the foundation of all his European 
experience. His earliest American memories 
were of Albany ; but the family were soon 
established in Fourteenth Street, New York, 
which was their home for some ten years, a 
settlement only broken by family visits and 
summer weeks by the sea. The children's ex 
traordinarily haphazard and promiscuous educa- 
tion went forward under various teachers, their 
father's erratic rule having apparently but one 
principle, that they should stay nowhere long 



4 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1869-74 

enough to receive any formal imprint. To Henry 
at least their schooling meant nothing whatever 
but the opportunity of conducting his own educa- 
tion in his own way, and he made the utmost of 
the easy freedom they enjoyed. He was able 
to stare and brood to his heart's content, and 
thus to feed his imagination on the only pasturage 
it required. 

In 1855 the whole household migrated to 
Europe for a visit of three years. This, the 
grand event of Henry's childhood, was really 
the determination of his whole career ; for he 
then absorbed, once for all, what he afterwards 
called the ' European virus ' the nostalgia for 
the old world which made it impossible for him 
to rest in peace elsewhere. All this time was one 
long draught of romance ; though indeed as an 
initiation into the ways of French and English 
life it could hardly have been a more incoherent 
enterprise. True to his law, the head of the 
household planted the young family in one place 
only to sweep them away as soon as they might 
begin to form associations there. The summer 
of 1855 was spent at Geneva, then the classic 
spot for the acquisition of the c languages,' 
according to the point of view of New York. But 
Geneva was abandoned before the end of the year, 
and the family settled in London for the winter, 
at first in Berkeley Street, afterwards in St. John's 
Wood. For any real contact with the place, 
this was a blank interlude ; the tuition of a young 
Scotchman, later one of R. L. Stevenson's masters, 
seems to have been the solitary local tie provided 
for the children. By the middle of 1856 they 
were in Paris, and here they were able to use 
their opportunities a little more fully. Of these 
one of the oddest was the educational * Institution 
Fezandie,' which they attended for a time. But 
there was more for them to learn at the Louvre 



1869 74 FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS 5 

and the Luxembourg, and it was to this time 
that Henry James afterwards ascribed his first 
conscious perception of what might be meant by 
the life of art. In the course of the two following 
years they twice spent some months at Boulogne- 
sur-mer, returning each time to Paris again. 
During the second visit to Boulogne Henry was 
laid low by the very serious attack of typhus that 
descends on the last page of A Small Boy. 

In 1858 the family was rushed back to America 
for a year at Newport ; but they were once more 
at Geneva for the winter of 1859-60. Here Henry 
was at first put to the strangest of all his strange 
educational courses, at the severely mathematical 
and commercial c Institution Rochette.' But pre- 
sently pleading for humaner studies, he was set 
free to attend lectures at the Academy, where 
at sixteen, for the first time and after so many 
arid experiences, he tasted instruction more or 
less adapted to his parts. Needless to say it did 
not last long. In the following summer the three 
elder boys were sent as private pupils to the 
houses of certain professors at Bonn. By this 
time William's marked talent for painting had 
decided his ambition ; and it was quite in line 
with the originality of the household that 
they should at once return to America, leaving 
Paris behind them for good, in order that William 
might study art. Henry alone of them, by his 
account, felt that their proceedings needed a 
great deal of explanation. The new experiment, 
as short-lived as all the rest, was entered upon 
with ardour, and the family was re-established 
at Newport in the autumn of 1860. The distin- 
guished master, William Hunt, had his studio 
there ; and for a time Henry himself haunted 
it tentatively, while his brother was working with 
a zeal that was soon spent. 

If we may trust his own report, Henry James 



6 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iseo 74 

had reached the age of seventeen with a curiously 
vague understanding of his own talent. No 
doubt it is possible to read the ' Notes ' too 
literally ; and indeed I have the fortunate oppor- 
tunity of giving a side-light upon this period of 
his youth which proves as much. But if he was 
not quite the indeterminate brooder he depicts, 
he was far from rivalling the unusual precocity 
and decision of his brothers, and he was only now 
beginning to take real stock of his gifts. He 
had been provided with almost none of the sort 
of training by which he might have profited ; 
and it is not to be supposed that his always indul- 
gent parent would have neglected the taste of a 
literary son if it had shewn itself distinctly. 
He had been left to discover his line of progress 
as best he might, and his advance towards litera- 
ture was slow and shy. Yet it would seem that 
by this time he must have made up his mind 
more definitely than he suggests in recalling the 
Newport years. The side-light I mentioned is 
thrown by some interesting notes sent me by 
Mr. Thomas Sergeant Perry, who made the 
acquaintance of the family at Newport and was 
to remain their lifelong friend. His description 
shews that Henry James had now his own 
ambitions, even if he preferred to nurse them 
unobtrusively. 

The first time I saw the James boys (writes Mr. Perry) 
was at the end of June or early in July 1858, shortly after 
their arrival in Newport for a year's stay. This year of 
their life is not recorded by H. J. in his ' Notes of a Son 
and Brother,' or rather its memories are crowded into the 
chronicle of the longer stay of the family in America, 
beginning with 1860. Mr. Duncan Pell, who knew Mr. 
James the father, told his son and me that we ought to call 
on the boys ; and we did, but they were out. A day or 
two later we called again and found them in. We all 
went together to the Pells' house and spent the evening in 
simple joys. 



1860-74 FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS 7 

I have often thought that the three brothers shewed that 
evening some of their characteristic qualities. I remember 
walking with Wilky hanging on my arm, talking to me as 
if he had found an old friend after long absence. When we 
got to the house and the rest of us were chattering, H. J. 
sat on the window-seat reading Leslie's Life of Constable 
with a certain air of remoteness. William was full of 
merriment and we were soon playing a simple and childish 
game. In ' A Small Boy and Others ' H. J. speaks of 
Wilky's * successful sociability, his instinct for intercourse, 
his genius for making friends,' and these amiable traits 
shewed themselves that evening as clearly as his other 
brother's jollity. Very soon afterwards H. J. with his two 
younger brothers entered the school where I was studying, 
that of the Rev. W. C. Leverett, who is mentioned in the 
4 Notes.' I recall H. J. as an uninterested scholar. Part 
of one day in a week was devoted to declaiming eloquent 
pieces from ' Sargent's Standard Speaker,' and I have not 
forgotten his amusement at seeing in the Manual of 
English Literature that we were studying, in the half page 
devoted to Mrs. Browning, that she had married R. 
Browning, ' himself no mean poet.' This compact infor- 
mation gave him great delight, for we were reading Brown- 
ing. It was then too that he read for the first time 
' The Vicar of Wakefield ' and with great pleasure. 

It was at that time that we began to take long walks 
together almost every afternoon along the Cliffs, over the 
beaches to the Paradise Rocks, to the Point, or inland, 
wherever it might be. A thousand scrappy recollections 
of the strolls still remain, fragments of talk, visions of the 
place. Thus it was near the Lily Pond that we long 
discussed Fourier's plan for regenerating the world. Harry 
had heard his father describe the great reformer's pro- 
posal to establish universal happiness, and like a good son 
he tried to carry the good news further. At another time 
he fell under the influence of Ruskin ; he devoted himself 
to the conscientious copying of a leaf and very faithfully 
drew a little rock that jutted above the surface of the Lily 
Pond. These artistic gropings, and those in Hunt's studio 
where he copied casts, were not his main interest. His 
chief interest was literature. We read the English maga- 
zines and reviews and the Revue des Deux Mondes with 
rapture. We fished in various waters, and I well remember 
when W. J. brought home a volume of Schopenhauer and 
showed us with delight the ugly mug of the philosopher 



8 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1860-74 

and read us amusing specimens of his delightful 
pessimism. It was W. J. too who told us about Renan 
one cool evening of February when the twilight lingers 
till after six. H. J. in his books speaks without enthusiasm 
of his school studies, but he and I read together at Mr. 
Leverett's school a very fair amount of Latin literature. 
Like Shakespeare he had less Greek. 

The departure of the James family to Geneva in October 
1859 was a grievous blow. They returned, however, with 
characteristic suddenness the next September and came 
at once to Newport. During their stay abroad H. J. and I 
had kept up a lively correspondence. Most unfortunately 
all his letters, which I had faithfully preserved, were 
destroyed during one of my absences in Europe, and 
among them a poem, probably the only thing of the kind 
he ever tried, a short narrative in the manner of Tennyson's 
4 Dora.' He had entirely forgotten it, very naturally, 
when he said in his ' Notes ' : ' The muse was of course 
the muse of prose fiction never for the briefest hour in my 
case the presumable, not to say the presuming, the much- 
taking-for-granted muse of rhyme, with whom I had never 
had, even in thought, the faintest flirtation.' 

After his return to America in 1860, the question what 
he should do with his life became more urgent. Of course 
it was in literature that he took the greatest interest. One 
task that he set himself was translating Alfred de Musset's 
'Lorenzaccio,' and into this version he introduced some 
scenes of his own. Exactly what they were I do not 
recall, though I read them with an even intenser interest 
than I did the original text. He was continually writing 
stories, mainly of a romantic kind. The heroes were for 
the most part villains, but they were white lambs by the 
side of the sophisticated heroines, who seemed to have 
read all Balzac in the cradle and to be positively dripping 
with lurid crimes. He began with these extravagant 
pictures of course in adoration of the great master whom 
he always so warmly admired. 

H. J. seldom entrusted these early efforts to the criticism 
of his family they did not see all he wrote. They were 
too keen critics, too sharp-witted, to be allowed to handle 
every essay of this budding talent. Their judgments 
would have been too true, their comments would have been 
too merciless ; and hence, for sheer self-preservation, he 
hid a good part of his work from them. Not that they were 
cruel, far from it. Their frequent solitude in foreign parts, 



1869-74 FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS 9 

where they had no familiar companions, had welded them 
together in a way that would have been impossible in 
America, where each would have had separate distractions 
of his own. Their loneliness forced them to grow together 
most harmoniously, but their long exercise in literary 
criticism would have made them possibly merciless judges 
of H. J.'s crude beginnings. 

The following anecdote will shew what I mean. Mr. 
James the father was getting out a somewhat abstruse 
book called ' Substance and Shadow, or Morality and 
Religion in their Relation to Life.' W. J. amused himself 
and all the family by designing a small cut to be put on the 
title page, representing a man beating a dead horse. This 
will illustrate the joyous chaff that filled the Jameses' 
house. There was no limit to it. There were always books 
to tell about and laugh over, or to admire, and there was 
an abundance of good talk with no shadow of pedantry or 
priggishness. H. J.'s spirits were never so high as those 
of the others. If they had been, he still would have had 
but little chance in a conflict of wits with them, on account 
of his slow speech, his halting choice of words and phrases ; 
but as a companion in our walks he was delightful. He 
had plenty of humour, as his books shew, and above all he 
had a most affectionate heart. No one ever had more 
certain and more unobtrusive kindness than he. He had 
a certain air of aloofness, but he was not indifferent to 
those who had no claim upon him, and to his friends he 
was most tenderly devoted. Those who knew him will 
not need to be assured of that. 

The Civil War, which presently broke upon 
the leisurely life of Newport, went deep into the 
mind and character of Henry James ; but his 
part in it could only be that of an onlooker, for 
about this time an accidental strain developed 
results that gave him many years of uncertain 
health. He had to live much in the experience 
of his brothers, which he eagerly did. The two 
youngest fought in the war, Wilky receiving a 
grave wound of which he carried the mark for 
the rest of his life he died in 1883. Henry went 
to Harvard in 1862, where William, no longer 
a painter but a man of science, had preceded him 



10 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES ISGQ 74 

the year before. By the beginning of 1864 the 
rest of the family had settled in Boston, at Ash- 
burton Place, whence they finally moved out to 
Cambridge in 1866. This was the end of their 
wanderings. For the remainder of his parents' 
lives Cambridge was Henry's American home 
and, with the instalment there of his brother 
William, the centre of all the family associations. 
But the long connection with New England never 
superseded, for Henry at least, the native tie 
with New York, and he was gratified when his 
name was at last carried back there again, many 
years afterwards, by another generation. 

In Boston and Cambridge Henry James at 
length touched a purely literary circle. The 
beginning of such fruitful friendships as those 
with Professor C. E. Norton and Mr. W. D. 
Howells meant his open and professed dedication 
to literature. The Harvard Law School left as 
little direct impression on him as any of his other 
exposures to ordinary teaching, but at last he 
had finished with these makeshifts. His new 
friends helped him into his proper channel. Under 
their auspices he made his way into publication 
and became a regular contributor of criticism 
and fiction to several journals and reviews. There 
followed some very uneventful and industrious 
years, disturbed to some extent by ill-health but 
broken by no long absences from Cambridge. 
His constant companion and literary confidant was 
Mr. Howells, who writes to me that ' people were 
very much struck with his work in the magazine ' 
the Atlantic Monthly, of which this friend was 
at that time assistant editor ' but mostly not 
pleased with it. It was a common thing to hear 
them say, " Oh yes, we like Mr. James very 
much, but we cannot bear his stories ".' Mr. 
Howells adds : c I could scarcely exaggerate the 
intensity of our literary association. It included 



186974 FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS 11 

not only what he was doing and thinking himself 
in fiction, and criticism of whatever he was 
reading, but what other people were trying to 
do in our American magazines.' Beneath these 
activities we are to imagine the deep pre-occupa- 
tion, growing and growing, of the idea of a possible 
return to Europe. It is not very clear why the 
satisfaction of his wish was delayed for as long 
as it was. His doubtful health can hardly have 
amounted to a hindrance, and the authority of his 
parents was far too light and sympathetic to 
stand in his way. Yet it is only by the end of 
1868, as I find from a letter of that time, that a 
journey to Europe has ' ceased to look positively 
and aggressively impossible.' Thereafter things 
move more quickly, and three months later he 
arrives at the great moment, memorable ever 
afterwards, of his landing at Liverpool. 

From this point the letters speak for themselves, 
and only the slenderest commentary is required. 
He went first to London, where the hospitable 
Nortons had been installed on a visit for some 
while. These good friends opened the way to 
many interesting impressions for him, but he was 
only briefly in London at this time. For health's 
sake he spent three weeks alone at Great Malvern, 
in some sort of hydropathic establishment, among 
very British company. He writes of his great 
delight in the beauty of the place, and how he is 
' gluttonised on British commonplace ' indoors. 
After a tour which included Oxford and Cam- 
bridge and several English cathedrals, he had a 
few weeks more of London, and then passed on 
to Switzerland. He was at Geneva by the end 
of May, from where he writes that he is 6 very 
well which has ceased to be a wonder.' The 
Nortons joined him at Vevey. He left them in 
July for a small Swiss tour before making the great 



12 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iseo 74 

adventure of crossing the Alps for the first time. 
By Venice and Florence he reached Rome in 
November. He gave himself up there to raptur- 
ous and solitary wanderings : ' I see no people, to 
speak of, or for that matter to speak to.' In 
December he was at Naples for a fortnight, and 
then returned northwards by Assisi, Perugia, 
Genoa, Avignon, to Paris. Italy had made the 
deep and final impression on him for which he 
was so well prepared ; c already,' he writes, ' I 
feel my bows beneath her weight settle comfort- 
ably into the water. . . . Out of Italy you don't 
know how vulgar a world it is.' Presently he was 
in England and at Malvern again, everywhere 
saturating himself in the sense of old history and 
romance, to make the most of an opportunity 
which he did not then hope to prolong. c It 
behoves me,' he writes to Professor Norton, c as 
a luckless American, diabolically tempted of the 
shallow and the superficial, really to catch the 
flavour of an old civilization (it hardly matters 
which) and to strive to raise myself, for one brief 
moment at least, in the attitude of observation.' 
At the end of April 1870 he sailed for America. 

After a year of Europe his hunger for the 
old world was greater than ever, but he had 
no present thought of settling there perman- 
ently. For two years he resumed the quiet 
life of his American Cambridge, busily engaged 
on a succession of sketches, reviews, and 
short stories of which only one, ' A Passionate 
Pilgrim,' survives in the collected edition of his 
works. ' I enjoy America,' he says in a letter of 
1870, ' with a poignancy that perpetually sur- 
prises me ' ; but ' the wish the absolute sense 
of need to see Italy again ' constantly increases. 
He spends ' a quiet, low-toned sort of winter, 
reading somewhat, writing a little, and " going 
out " occasionally.' He wrote his first piece of 



1869 74 FIRST EUROPEAN YEARS 13 

fiction that was long enough to be called a novel 
' Watch and Ward,' afterwards so completely dis- 
owned and ignored by him that he always named 
as his first novel Roderick Hudson, of four years 
later. But the memory of Italy had fatally shaken 
his rest, and there began a long and anxious 
struggle with his sense of duty to his native land. 
In his letters of this time the attitude of the 
' good American ' remains resolute, however. ' It's 
a complex fate, being an American,' he writes, 
early in 1872, ' and one of the responsibilities it 
entails is fighting against a superstitious valuation 
of Europe.' It was still as a tourist and a pilgrim 
only that he crossed the Atlantic again, with 
his sister and aunt (Miss Katharine Walsh), in 
May 1872. 

He came with a definite commission to contri- 
bute a series of 'Transatlantic Sketches' to the 
American Nation, and the first material was 
gathered in an English tour that ranged from 
Chester to North Devon. Still with his sister 
and aunt he wandered for three months in Switzer- 
land, North Italy and Bavaria, settling upon 
Paris, now alone, for the autumn. It was here 
that he began his intimacy with J. R. Lowell, in 
afternoon walks with him between mornings of 
work and evenings at the Theatre Frangais. He 
declares that he saw no one else in Paris his 
mind was firmly set upon Italy. To Rome he 
went for the first six months of 1873, where he 
was now at home enough among ancient solitudes 
to have time and thought for social novelty. 
Thirty years later, in his life of William Wetmore 
Story, he revived the American world of what 
was still a barely modernised Rome, the world 
into which he was plunged by acquaintance with 
the sculptor and his circle. Now and thence- 
forward it was not so much the matter for 
sketches of travel that he was collecting as it was 



14 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1869-74 

the matter for the greater part of his best-known 
fiction. The American in Europe was to be 
his own subject, and he began to make it so. 
The summer months were mainly spent at Hom- 
burg, which was also to leave its mark on several 
of his tales. His elder brother joined him when 
he returned to Rome, but William contracted a 
malaria, and they moved to Florence early in 
1874. Here Henry was soon left alone, in rooms 
on Piazza Sta. Maria Novella, for some months 
of close and happy concentration on Roderick 
Hudson. The novel had already been engaged 
by Mr. HoweUs for the Atlantic Monthly, and 
its composition marks the definite end of Henry 
James's literary apprenticeship. He had arrived 
at it by wary stages ; of the large amount of 
work behind him, though much of it was of slight 
value, nothing had been wasted ; every page of 
his writing had been in the direct line towards 
the perfect literary manners of his matured 
skill. But hitherto he had written experiment- 
ally and to occasion ; he was now an established 
novelist in his own right. 

He returned to America in the autumn of 1874, 
after some summer wanderings that are shewn 
by the ' Transatlantic Sketches ' to have taken him 
through Holland and Belgium. But it happens 
that at this point there is an almost empty gap 
of a year and more in his surviving correspond- 
ence, and it is not possible to follow him closely. 
He disappears with the still agitating question 
upon his hands where was he to live ? his 
American loyalty still fighting it out with his 
European inclination. The steps are lost by 
which the doubt was determined in the course 
of another year at home. It is only certain that 
when he next came to Europe, twelve months 
later, it had been quieted for ever. 



To Miss Alice James. 

H. J.'s lodgings in Half Moon St., and his landlord, Mr. 
Lazarus Fox, are described, it will be remembered, in The 
Middle Years. He had arrived in London from America 
a few days before the date of the following letter to his 
sister. Professor Charles Norton, with his wife and sisters, 
was living at this time in Kensington. 

7 Half Moon St., W. 
March 10th [1869]. 

Ma soeur cherie, 

I have half an hour before dinner-time : 
why shouldn't I begin a letter for Saturday's 
steamer ? . . . I really feel as if I had lived I 
don't say a lifetime but a year in this murky 
metropolis. I actually believe that this feel- 
ing is owing to the singular permanence of the 
impressions of childhood, to which any present 
experience joins itself on, without a broken link 
in the chain of sensation. Nevertheless, I may 
say that up to this time I have been crushed 
under a sense of the mere magnitude of London 
its inconceivable immensity in such a way 
as to paralyse my mind for any appreciation of 
details. This is gradually subsiding; but what 
does it leave behind it ? An extraordinary in- 
tellectual depression, as I may say, and an 
indefinable flatness of mind. The place sits on 
you, broods on you, stamps on you with the feet 
of its myriad bipeds and quadrupeds. In fine, 

15 



16 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1869 

it is anything but a cheerful or a charming city. 
Yet it is a very splendid one. It gives you here 
at the west end, and in the city proper, a vast 
impression of opulence and prosperity. But you 
don't want a dissertation of commonplaces on 
London and you would like me to touch on my 
own individual experience. Well, my dear, since 
last week it has been sufficient, altho' by no means 
immense. On Saturday I received a visit from 
Mr. Leslie Stephen (blessed man) who came 
unsolicited with the utmost civility in the world 
and invited me to dine with, him the next day. 
This I did, in company with Miss Jane Norton. 
His wife made me very welcome and they both 
appear to much better effect in their own premises 
than they did in America. After dinner he 
conducted us by the underground railway to see 
the beasts in the Regent's Park, to which as a mem- 
ber of the Zoological Society he has admittance 
6 Sundays.' ... In the evening I dined with 
the invaluable Nortons and went with Chas. 
and Madame, Miss S. and Miss Jane (via under- 
ground railway) to hear Ruskin lecture at Univer- 
sity College on Greek Myths. I enjoyed it much 
in spite of fatigue ; but as I am to meet him some 
day through the Nortons, I shall reserve comments. 
On Wednesday evening I dined at the N.'s (tou- 
jours Norton, you see) in company with Miss 
Dickens Dickens' s only unmarried daughter 
plain-faced, ladylike (in black silk and black 
lace,) and the image of her father. I exchanged 
but ten words with her. But yesterday, my 
dear old sister, was my crowning day seeing as 
how I spent the greater part of it in the house of 
Mr. Wm. Morris, Poet. Fitly to tell the tale, I 
should need a fresh pen, paper and spirits. A 
few hints] must ^suffice. To begin with, I break- 
fasted, by way of a change, with the Nortons, 
along with Mr. Sam Ward, who has just arrived, 



. 25 TO MISS ALICE JAMES 17 

and Mr. Aubrey de Vere, tu sais, the Catholic 
poet, a pleasant honest old man and very much 
less high-flown than his name. He tells good 
stories in a light natural way. After a space I 
came home and remained until 4| p.m., when I 
had given rendez-vous to C.N. and ladies at Mr. 
Morris's door, they going by appointment to see 
his shop and C. having written to say he would 
bring me. Morris lives on the same premises 
as his shop, in Queen's Square, Bloomsbury, 
an antiquated ex-fashionable region, smelling 
strong of the last century, with a hoary effigy of 
Queen Anne in the middle. Morris's poetry, 
you see, is only his sub-trade. To begin with, 
he is a manufacturer of stained glass windows, 
tiles, ecclesiastical and medieval tapestry, altar- 
cloths, and in fine everything quaint, archaic, 
pre-Raphaelite and I may add, exquisite. Of 
course his business is small and may be carried 
on in his house : the things he makes are so 
handsome, rich and expensive (besides being 
articles of the very last luxury) that his fabrique 
can't be on a very large scale. But everything 
he has and does is superb and beautiful. But 
more curious than anything is himself. He 
designs with his own head and hands all the 
figures and patterns used in his glass and tapestry, 
and furthermore works the latter, stitch by 
stitch, with his own fingers aided by those of his 
wife and little girls. Oh, ma chere, such a wife ! 
Je n'en reviens pas she haunts me still. A 
figure cut out of a missal out of one of Rossetti's 
or Hunt's pictures to say this gives but a faint 
idea of her, because when such an image puts on 
flesh and blood, it is an apparition of fearful and 
wonderful intensity. It's hard to say whether 
she's a grand synthesis of all the pre-Raphaelite 
pictures ever made or they a 'keen analysis' 
of her whether she's an original or a copy. In 



18 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i860 

either case she is a wonder. Imagine a tall lean 
woman in a long dress of some dead purple stuff, 
guiltless of hoops (or of anything else, I should 
say,) with a mass of crisp black hair heaped into 
great wavy projections on each of her temples, a 
thin pale face, a pair of strange sad, deep, dark 
Swinburnian eyes, with great thick black oblique 
brows, joined in the middle and tucking them- 
selves away under her hair, a mouth like the 
' Oriana ' in our illustrated Tennyson, a long 
neck, without any collar, and in lieu thereof some 
dozen strings of outlandish beads in fine com- 
plete. On the wall was a large nearly full-length 
portrait of her by Rossetti, so strange and unreal 
that if you hadn't seen her you'd pronounce it 
a distempered vision, but in fact an extremely 
good likeness. After dinner (we stayed to dinner, 
Miss Grace, Miss S. S. and I,) Morris read us one 
of his unpublished poems, from the second series 
of his un-' Earthly Paradise,' and his wife, having 
a bad toothache, lay on the sofa, with her hand- 
kerchief to her face. There was something very 
quaint and remote from our actual life, it seemed 
to me, in the whole scene : Morris reading in his 
flowing antique numbers a legend of prodigies 
and terrors (the story of Bellerophon, it was), 
around us all the picturesque bric-a-brac of the 
apartment (every article of furniture literally a 
6 specimen ' of something or other,) and in the 
corner this dark silent medieval woman with 
her medieval toothache. Morris himself is 
extremely pleasant and quite different from his 
wife. He impressed me most agreeably. He 
is short, burly, corpulent, very careless and 
unfinished in his dress, and looks a little like 
B. G. Hosmer, if you can imagine B. G. infinitely 
magnified and fortified. He has a very loud 
voice and a nervous restless manner and a per- 
fectly unaffected and business-like address. His 



. 25 TO MISS ALICE JAMES 19 

talk indeed is wonderfully to the point and re- 
markable for clear good sense. He said no one 
thing that I remember, but I was struck with 
the very good judgment shown in everything 
he uttered. He's an extraordinary example, in 
short, of a delicate sensitive genius and taste, 
saved by a perfectly healthy body and temper. 
All his designs are quite as good (or rather nearly 
so) as his poetry : altogether it was a long rich 
sort of visit, with a strong peculiar flavour of 
its own. . . . Ouf ! what a repulsively long 
letter ! This sort of thing won't do. A few 
general reflections, a burst of affection (say 
another sheet), and I must close. . . . Fare- 
well, dear girl, and dear incomparable all 

Your H. 



To his Mother. 

7 Half Moon St., W. 

March 26, 1869. 
My dearest Mother, 

. . . This will have been my fifth weekly 
bundle since my arrival, and I can't promise 
or rather I forbear to threaten that it shall be 
as hugely copious as the others. But there's no 
telling where my pen may take me. You see 
I am still in what my old landlord never speaks 
of but as ' this great metropolis ' ; and I hope 
you will believe me when I add, moreover, that 
I am in the best of health and spirits. During 
the last week I have been knocking about in a 
quiet way and have deeply enjoyed my little 
adventures. The last few days in particular 
have been extremely pleasant. You have per- 
haps fancied that I have been rather stingy- 
minded towards this wondrous England, and 
that I was [not] taking things in quite the 
magnanimous intellectual manner that befits a 



20 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1869 

youth of my birth and breeding. The truth is 
that the face of things here throws a sensitive 
American back on himself back on his prejudices 
and national passions, and benumbs for a while 
the faculty of appreciation and the sense of justice. 
But with time, if he is worth a copper, the 
characteristic beauty of the land dawns upon 
him (just as certain vicious chilblains are now 
dawning upon my poor feet) and he feels that 
he would fain plant his restless feet into the rich 
old soil and absorb the burden of the misty air. 
If I were in anything like working order now, I 
should be very sorry to leave England. I should 
like to settle down for a year and expose my body 
to the English climate and my mind to English 
institutions. But a truce to this cheap discursive 
stuff. I date the moment from which my mind 
rose erect in impartial might to a little sail I took 
on the Thames the other day in one of the little 
penny steamers which shoot along its dirty bosom. 
It was a grey, raw English day, and the banks 
of the river, as far as I went, hideous. Never- 
theless I enjoyed it. It was too cold to go up 
to Greenwich. (The weather, by the way, since 
my arrival has been horribly damp and bleak, 
and no more like spring than in a Boston January). 
The next day I went with several of the Nortons 
to dine at Ruskin's, out of town. This too was 
extremely pleasant. Ruskin himself is a very 
simple matter. In face, in manner, in talk, in 
mind, he is weakness pure and simple. I use 
the word, not invidiously, but scientifically. He 
has the beauties of his defects ; but to see him 
only confirms the impression given by his writing, 
that he has been scared back by the grim face of 
reality into the world of unreason and illusion, 
and that he wanders there without a compass 
and a guide or any light save the fitful flashes 
of his beautiful genius. The dinner was very 



AET. 25 TO HIS MOTHER 21 

nice and easy, owing in a great manner to Ruskin's 
two charming young nieces who live with him 
one a lovely young Irish girl with a rich virginal 
brogue a creature of a truly delightful British 
maidenly simplicity and the other a nice Scotch 
lass, who keeps house for him. But I confess, 
cold-blooded villain that I am, that what I most 
enjoyed was a portrait by Titian an old doge, 
a work of transcendent beauty and elegance, 
such as to give one a new sense of the meaning 
of art. . . . But, dearest mammy, I must pull 
up. Pile in scraps of news. Osculate my sister 
most passionately. Likewise my aunt. Be as- 
sured of my sentiments and present them to my 
father and brother. 

Thy HENRY jr. 



To his Mother. 

Florence, Hotel de 1'Europe. 

October 13th, 1869. 
My darling Mammy, 

. . . For the past six weeks that I have 
been in Italy I've hardly until within a day 
or two exchanged five minutes' talk with any 
one but the servants in the hotels and the cus- 
todians in the churches. As far as meeeting 
people is concerned, I've not as yet had in Europe 
a very brilliant record. Yesterday I met at the 
Uffizi Miss Anna Vernon of Newport and her 
friend Mrs. Carter, with whom I had some dis- 
course ; and on the same morning I fell in with 
a somewhat seedy and sickly American, who 
seemed to be doing the gallery with an awful 
minuteness, and who after some conversation 
proposed to come and see me. He called this 
morning and has just left ; but he seems a vague 
and feeble brother and I anticipate no wondrous 



22 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iseo 

joy from his acquaintance. The ' hardly ' in 
the clause above is meant to admit two or three 
Englishmen with whom I have been thrown for 
a few hours. . . . One especially, whom I met at 
Verona, won my affections so rapidly that I was 
really sad at losing him. But he has vanished, 
leaving only a delightful impression and not even 
a name a man of about 38, with a sort of quiet 
perfection of English virtue about him, such 
as I have rarely found in another. Willy 
asked me in one of his recent letters for an 
' opinion ' of the English, which I haven't yet 
had time to give tho' at times I have felt as if 
it were a theme on which I could write from a 
full mind. In fact, however, I have very little 
right to have any opinion on the matter. I've 
seen far too few specimens and those too super- 
ficially. The only thing I'm certain about is 
that I like them like them heartily. W. asked 
if as individuals they ' kill ' the individual 
American. To this I would say that the English- 
men I have met not only kill, but bury in un- 
fathomable depths, the Americans I have met. 
A set of people less framed to provoke national 
self-complacency than the latter it would be hard 
to imagine. There is but one word to use in 
regard to them vulgar, vulgar, vulgar. Their 
ignorance their stingy, defiant, grudging atti- 
tude towards everything European their per- 
petual reference of all things to some American 
standard or precedent which exists only in their 
own unscrupulous wind-bags and then our 
unhappy poverty of voice, of speech and of 
physiognomy these things glare at you hide- 
ously. On the other hand, we seem a people of 
character, we seem to have energy, capacity and 
intellectual stuff in ample measure. What I 
have pointed at as our vices are the elements of 
the modern man with culture quite left out. It's 



. 26 TO HIS MOTHER 23 

the absolute and incredible lack of culture that 
strikes you in common travelling Americans. 
The pleasantness of the English, on the other 
side, comes in a great measure from the fact of 
their each having been dipped into the crucible, 
which gives them a sort of coating of comely 
varnish and colour. They have been smoothed 
and polished by mutual social attrition. They 
have manners and a language. We lack both, 
but particularly the latter. I have seen very 
' nasty ' Britons, certainly, but as a rule they 
are such as to cause your heart to warm to them. 
The women are at once better and worse than 
the men. Occasionally they are hard, flat, and 
greasy and dowdy to downright repulsiveness ; 
but frequently they have a modest, matronly 
charm which is the perfection of womanishness 
and which makes Italian and Frenchwomen 
and to a certain extent even our own seem like 
a species of feverish highly- developed invalids. 
You see Englishmen, here in Italy, to a par- 
ticularly good advantage. In the midst of these 
false and beautiful Italians they glow with the 
light of the great fact, that after all they love a 
bath-tub and they hate a lie. 

I6th, Sunday. I have seen some nice Ameri- 
cans and I still love my country. I have called 
upon Mrs. Huntington and her two daughters 
late of Cambridge whom I met in Switzerland 
and who have an apartment here. The daughters 
more than reconcile me to the shrill-voiced 
sirens of New England's rock-bound coast. 
The youngest is delightfully beautiful and 
sweet -and the elder delightfully sweet and 
plain with a plainness qui vaut bien des 
beautes. . . . 

Maman de mon ame, farewell. I have kept 
my letter three days, hoping for news from 
home. I hope you are not paying me back for 



24 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i860 

that silence of six weeks ago. Blessings on your 
universal heads. 

Thy lone and loving exile, 

H. J. jr. 

To William James. 

Hotel d'Angleterre, Rome. 

,_ , Oct. 30th [1869]. 

My dearest Wm. 

. . . The afternoon after I had posted 
those two letters I took a walk out of Florence 
to an enchanting old Chartreuse an ancient 
monastery, perched up on top of a hill and tur- 
reted with little cells like a feudal castle. I 
attacked it and carried it by storm i.e. obtained 
admission and went over it. On coming out I 
swore to myself that while I had life in my body 
I wouldn't leave a country where adventures of 
that complexion are the common incidents of 
your daily constitutional : but that I would hurl 
myself upon Rome and fight it out on this line 
at the peril of my existence. Here I am then in 
the Eternal City. It was easy to leave Florence ; 
the cold had become intolerable and the rain 
perpetual. I started last night, and at 10| o'clock 
and after a bleak and fatiguing journey of 12 
hours found myself here with the morning light. 
There are several places on the route I should 
have been glad to see ; but the weather and my 
own condition made a direct journey imperative. 
I rushed to this hotel (a very slow and obstructed 
rush it was, I confess, thanks to the longueurs 
and lenteurs of the Papal dispensation) and after 
a wash and a breakfast let myself loose on the 
city. From midday to dusk I have been roaming 
the streets. Que vous en dirai-je ? At last 
for the first time I live ! It beats everything : 
it leaves the Rome of your fancy your educa- 
tion nowhere. It makes Venice Florence 



AET. 26 TO WILLIAM JAMES 25 

Oxford London seem like little cities of paste- 
board. I went reeling and moaning thro' the 
streets, in a fever of enjoyment. In the course 
of four or five hours I traversed almost the 
whole of Rome and got a glimpse of everything 
the Forum, the Coliseum (stupendissimo !), 
the Pantheon, the Capitol, St. Peter's, the Column 
of Trajan, the Castle of St. Angelo all the 
Piazzas and ruins and monuments. The effect 
is something indescribable. For the first time 
I know what the picturesque is. In St. Peter's 
I stayed some time. It's even beyond its repu- 
tation. It was filled with foreign ecclesiastics- 
great armies encamped in prayer on the marble 
plains of its pavement an inexhaustible physiog- 
nomical study. To crown my day, on my way 
home, I met his Holiness in person driving in 
prodigious purple state sitting dim within the 
shadows of his coach with two uplifted benedic- 
tory fingers like some dusky Hindoo idol in the 
depths of its shrine. Even if I should leave Rome 
tonight I should feel that I have caught the key- 
note of its operation on the senses. I have looked 
along the grassy vista of the Appian Way and 
seen the topmost stone-work of the Coliseum 
sitting shrouded in the light of heaven, like the 
edge of an Alpine chain. I've trod the Forum and 
I have scaled the Capitol. I've seen the Tiber 
hurrying along, as swift and dirty as history ! 
From the high tribune of a great chapel of St. 
Peter's I have heard in the papal choir a strange 
old man sing in a shrill unpleasant soprano. 
I've seen troops of little tonsured neophytes clad 
in scarlet, marching and countermarching and 
ducking and flopping, like poor little raw recruits 
for the heavenly host. In fine I've seen Rome, 
and I shall go to bed a wiser man than I last rose 
yesterday morning. . . . A . . 

A t01 ' H. J. jr. 



26 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES mo 



To William James. 

* Minny Temple ' is the beloved young cousin commem- 
orated in the last pages of Notes of a Son and Brother. 
The news of her death came to H. J. at Malvern almost 
immediately after the following letter was written.! 

Great Malvern. 

March 8th, 1870. 
Beloved Bill, 

You ask me in your last letter so c cor- 
dially ' to write home every week, if it's only a 
line, that altho' I have very little to say on this 
windy March afternoon, I can't resist the home- 
ward tendency of my thoughts. I wrote to Alice 
some eight days ago raving largely about the 
beauty of Malvern, in the absence of a better 
theme : so I haven't even that topic to make 
talk of. But as I say, my thoughts are facing 
squarely homeward and that is enough. . . . 
Now that I'm in England you'd rather have me 
talk of the present than of pluperfect Italy. But 
life furnishes so few incidents here that I cudgel 
my brains in vain. Plenty of gentle emotions 
from the scenery, etc. ; but only man is vile. 
Among my fellow- patients here I find no intel- 
lectual companionship. Never from a single 
Englishman of them all have I heard the first 
word of appreciation and enjoyment of the things 
here that I find delightful. To a certain extent 
this is natural : but not to the extent to which 
they carry it. As for the women, I give 'em 
up in advance. I am tired of their plainness 
and stiffness and tastelessness their dowdy beads 
and their lindsey woolsey trains. Nay, this is 
peevish and brutal. Personally (with all their 
faults) they are well enough. I revolt from their 
dreary deathly want of what shall I call it ? 
Clover Hooper has it intellectual grace Minny 



. 26 TO WILLIAM JAMES 27 

Temple has it moral spontaneity. They live 
wholly in the realm of the cut and dried. ' Have 
you ever been to Florence ? ' ' Oh yes.' c Isn't 
it a most peculiarly interesting city ? ' ' Oh 
yes, I think it's so very nice.' ' Have you read 
Romola ? ' ' Oh yes.' ' I suppose you admire 
it.' c ,Oh yes, I think it so very clever.' The 
English have such a mortal mistrust of anything 
like criticism or ' keen analysis ' (which they 
seem to regard as a kind of maudlin foreign 
flummery) that I rarely remember to have heard 
on English lips any other intellectual verdict 
(no matter under what provocation) than this 
broad synthesis * so immensely clever.' What 
exasperates you is not that they can't say more, 
but that they wouldn't if they could. Ah, but 
they are a great people for all that. ... I 
re-echo with all my heart your impatience for 
the moment of our meeting again. I should 
despair of ever making you know how your 
conversation m'a manque or how, when regained, 
I shall enjoy it. All I ask for is that I may spend 
the interval to the best advantage and you too. 
The more we shall have to say to each other the 
better. Your last letter spoke of father and 
mother having * shocking colds ' I hope they 
have melted away. Among the things I have 
recently read is father's Marriage paper in the 
Atlantic with great enjoyment of its manner 
and approval of its matter. I see he is becoming 
one of our prominent magazinists. He will send 
me the thing from Old and New. A young 
Scotchman here gets the Nation sent him by his 
brother from N.Y. Whose are the three French 
papers on women ? They are ' so very clever.' 
A propos I retract all those brutalities about 
the Englanderinnen. They are the mellow 
mothers and daughters of a mighty race. But 
I must pull in. I have still lots of unsatisfied 



28 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES is?o 

curiosity and unexpressed affection, but they 
must stand over. Farewell. Salute my parents 
and sister and believe me your brother of brothers, 

H. JAMES jr. 



To his Father. 

Great Malvern, 

March 19th, '70. 
Dear Father, 

. . . The other afternoon I trudged over to 
Worcester through a region so thick- sown with 
good old English ' effects '-with elm-scattered 
meadows and sheep-cropped commons and the 
ivy-smothered dwellings of small gentility, and 
high-gabled, heavy-timbered, broken-plastered 
farm-houses, and stiles leading to delicious 
meadow footpaths and lodge-gates leading to far-off 
manors with all things suggestive of the opening 
chapters of half-remembered novels, devoured 
in infancy that I felt as if I were pressing all 
England to my soul. As I neared the good old 
town I saw the great Cathedral tower, high and 
square, rise far into the cloud-dappled blue. 
And as I came nearer still I stopped on the bridge 
and viewed the great ecclesiastical pile cast 
downward into the yellow Severn. And going 
further yet I entered the town and lounged about 
the close and gazed my fill at that most soul- 
sustaining sight the waning afternoon, far aloft 
on the broad perpendicular field of the Cathedral 
spire tasted too, as deeply, of the peculiar 
stillness and repose of the close saw a ruddy 
English lad come out and lock the door of the 
old foundation school which marries its heavy 
gothic walls to the basement of the church, and 
carry the vast big key into one of the still canonical 
houses and stood wondering as to the effect on 



AET. 26 TO HIS FATHER 29 

a man's mind of having in one's boyhood haunted 
the Cathedral shade as a King's scholar and yet 
kept ruddy with much cricket in misty meadows 
by the Severn. This is a sample of the medi- 
tations suggested in my daily walks. Envy me 
if you can without hating ! I wish I could 
describe them all Colwell Green especially, where, 
weather favouring, I expect to drag myself this 
afternoon where each square yard of ground 
lies verdantly brimming with the deepest British 
picturesque, and half begging, half deprecating 
a sketch. You should see how a certain stile- 
broken footpath here winds through the meadows 
to a little grey rook-haunted church. Another 
region fertile in walks is the great line of hills. 
Half an hour's climb will bring you to the top of 
the Beacon the highest of the range and here 
is a breezy world of bounding turf with twenty 
counties at your feet and when the mist is thick 
something immensely English in the situation 
(as if you were wandering on some mighty sea- 
ward cliffs or downs, haunted by vague traditions 
of an early battle.) You may wander for hours 
delighting in the great green landscape as it 
responds forever to the cloudy movements of 
heaven scaring the sheep wishing horribly that 
your mother and sister were I can't say 
mounted on a couple of little white-aproned 
donkeys, climbing comfortably at your side. 
But at this rate I shall tire you out with my walks 
as effectually as I sometimes tire myself. . . . 
Kiss mother for her letter and for that villainous 
cold. I enfold you all in an immense embrace. 
Your faithful son, 

H. 



30 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES mi 



To Charles Eliot Norton. 

Professor Norton and his family were still at this time 
in Europe. Arthur Sedgwick was Mrs. Norton's brother. 

Cambridge, (Mass.) 
Jan. 16, '71. 

My dear Charles, 

If I had needed any reminder and quickener 
of a very old-time intention to take some morning 
and put into most indifferent words my frequent 
thoughts of you, I should have found one very 
much to the purpose in a letter from Grace, 
received some ten days ago. But really I needed 
no deeper consciousness of my great desire to 
punch a hole in the massive silence which has 
grown up between us. ... 

Cambridge and Boston society still rejoices in 
that imposing fixedness of outline which is ever 
so inspiring to contemplate. In Cambridge I 
see Arthur Sedgwick and Howells ; but little of 
any one else. Arthur seems not perhaps an 
enthusiastic, but a well- occupied man, and talks 
much in a wholesome way of meaning to go 
abroad. Howells edits, and observes and produces 
the latter in his own particular line with more 
and more perfection. His recent sketches in 
the Atlantic, collected into a volume, belong, I 
think, by the wondrous cunning of their manner, 
to very good literature. He seems to have re- 
solved ^himself, however, [into] one who can write 
solely of what his fleshly eyes have seen ; and 
for this reason I wish he were " located " where 
they would rest upon richer and fairer things 
than this immediate landscape. Looking about 
for myself, I conclude that the face of nature and 
civilization in this our country is to a certain 
point a very sufficient literary field. But it will 
yield its secrets only to a really grasping 



A ET . 27 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 31 

imagination. This I think Howells lacks. (Of 
course / don't!) To write well and worthily of 
American things one need even more than elsewhere 
to be a master. But unfortunately one is less ! . . . 
I myself have been scribbling some little tales 
which in the course of time you will have a chance 
to read. To write a series of good little tales I 
deem ample work for a life-time. I dream that 
my life-time shall have done it. It's at least a 
relief to have arranged one's life-time. . . . 

There is an immensity of stupid feeling and 
brutal writing prevalent here about recent English 
conduct and attitude innocuous to some extent, 
I think, from its very stupidity ; but I confess 
there are now, to my mind, few things of more 
appealing interest than the various problems 
with which England finds herself confronted : 
and this owing to the fact that, on the whole, the 
country is so deeply so tragically charged with 
a consciousness of her responsibilities, dangers 
and duties. She presents in this respect a won- 
drous contrast to ourselves. We, retarding our 
healthy progress by all the gross weight of our 
maniac contempt of the refined idea : England 
striving vainly to compel her lumbersome carcase 
by the straining wings of conscience and desire. 
Of course I speak of the better spirits there and 
the worst here. . . . We have over here the high 
natural light of chance and space and prosperity ; 
but at moments dark things seem to be almost 
more blessed by the dimmer radiance shed by 
impassioned thought. . . . But I must stay my 
gossiping hand. . . . 



32 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1*12 



To his Parents. 

This next visit to Europe had begun in the spring of 
1872. He had reached Germany, in the company of his 
sister and aunt, by way of England, Switzerland and 
Italy. 

Heidelberg, 

Sept. 15th, '72. 
Dear Father and Mother, 

I think I should manifest an energy more 
becoming a child of yours if I were to sustain my 
nodding head at least enough longer to scrawl 
the initial words of my usual letter : we are 
travellers in the midst of travel. You heard 
from me last at Innsbruck or rather, I think, at 
Botzen, just before, a place beautiful by nature 
but most ugly by man ; and [we] came by an admir- 
able five hours' run through the remnant of the 
Tyrol to Munich, where we spent two rather 
busy days. It's a singular place and one difficult 
to write of with a serious countenance. It has 
a fine lot of old pictures, but otherwise it is a 
nightmare of pretentious vacuity : a city of 
chalky stucco a Florence and Athens in canvas 
and planks. To have come [thither] from Venice 
is a sensation ! We found reality at last at 
Niiremburg, by which place, combined with this, 
it seemed a vast pity not to proceed rather than 
by stupid Stuttgart. Niiremburg is excellent 
and comparisons are odious ; but I would give 
a thousand N.'s for one ray of Verona ! We 
came on hither by a morning and noon of railway, 
which has not in the least prevented a goodly 
afternoon and evening at the Castle here. The 
castle (which I think you have all seen in your 
own travels) is an incomparable ruin and holds 
its own against any Italian memories. The 
light, the weather, the time, were all, this evening, 



A ET . 29 TO HIS PARENTS 33 

most propitious to our visit. This rapid week 
in Germany has filled us with reflections and 
observations, tossed from the railway windows 
on our course, and irrecoverable at this late hour. 
To me this hasty and most partial glimpse of 
Germany has been most satisfactory ; it has 
cleared from my mind the last mists of uncer- 
tainty and assured me that I can never hope to 
become an unworthiest adoptive grandchild of 
the fatherland. It is well to listen to the voice 
of the spirit, to cease hair-splitting and treat 
one's self to a good square antipathy when it 
is so very sympathetic ! I may ' cultivate ' 
mine away, but it has given me a week's whole- 
some nourishment. 

Strasbourg. We have seen Strasbourg a pal- 
pably conquered city and the Cathedral, which 
beats everything we have ever seen. Externally, 
it amazed me, which somehow I hadn't expected 
it to do. Strasbourg is gloomy, battered and 
painful ; but apparently already much Ger- 
manized. We take tomorrow the formidable 
journey to Paris. . . . 

Yours in hope and love, 

H. JAMES jr. 

To W. D. Howells. 

Mr. Howells's novel, just published, was A Chance 
Acquaintance. An allusion at the end of this letter recalls 
the great fire that had recently devastated the business 
quarter of Boston. 

Berne, June 22d [1873]. 
My veritably dear Howells, 

Your letter of May 12th came to me a 
week ago (after a journey to Florence and back) 
and gave me exquisite pleasure. I found it in 
the Montreux post-office and wandered further 
till I found the edge of an open vineyard by the 



34 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1373 

lake, and there I sat down with my legs hanging 
over the azure flood and broke the seal. Thank 
you for everything ; for liking my writing and 
for being glad I like yours. Your letter made 
me homesick, and when you told of the orchards 
by Fresh Pond I hung my head for melancholy. 
What is the meaning of this destiny of desolate 
exile this dreary necessity of having month 
after month to do without our friends for the 
sake of this arrogant old Europe which so little 
befriends us ? This is a hot Sunday afternoon : 
from my window I look out across the rushing 
Aar at some beautiful undivided meadows backed 
by black pine woods and blue mountains : but 
I would rather be taking up my hat and stick and 

foing to invite myself to tea with you. I left 
taly a couple of weeks since, and since then 
have been taking gloomy views of things. I feel 
as if I had left my " genius " behind in Rome. 
But I suppose I am well away from Rome just 
now ; the Roman (and even the Florentine) lotus 
had become, with the warm weather, an indiges- 
tible diet. I heard from my mother a day or 
two since that your book is having a sale bless 
it ! I haven't yet seen the last part and should 
like to get the volume as a whole. Would it 
trouble you to have it sent by post to Brown, 
Shipley & Co., London ? Your fifth part I 
extremely relished ; it was admirably touched. 
I wished the talk in which the offer was made had 
been given (instead of the mere resume), but 
I suppose you had good and sufficient reasons 
for doing as you did. But your work is a success 
and Kitty a creation. I have envied you greatly, 
as I read, the delight of feeling her grow so real 
and complete, so true and charming. I think, 
in bringing her through with such unerring 
felicity, your imagination has fait ses preuves. . . . 
I should like to tell you a vast deal about myself, 



. so TO W. D. HOWELLS 35 

and I believe you would like to hear it. But as 
far as vastness goes I should have to invent it, 
and it's too hot for such work. I send you 
another (and for the present last) travelling piece 
about Perugia etc. It goes with this, in another 
cover : a safe journey to it. I hope you may 
squeeze it in this year. It has numbers (in 
pages) more than you desire ; but I think it is 
within bounds, as you will see there is an elision 
of several. I have done in all these months since 
I've been abroad less writing than I hoped. Rome, 
for direct working, was not good too many 
distractions and a languefying atmosphere. But 
for " impressions " it was priceless, and I've got 
a lot duskily garnered away somewhere under 
my waning (that's an n, not a v) chevelure which 
some day may make some figure. I shall make 
the coming year more productive or retire from 
business altogether. Believe in me yet awhile 
longer and I shall reward your faith by dribblings 
somewhat less meagre. ... I say nothing about 
the Fire. I car^'t trouble you with ejaculations 
and inquiries which my letters from home will 
probably already have answered. At this rate, 
apparently, the Lord loveth Boston immeasurably. 
But what a grim old Jehovah it is ! . . . 

My blessing, dear Howells, on all your affec- 
tions, labours and desires. Write me a word 
when you can (B. & S., London) and believe me 
always faithfully yours, 

H. JAMES jr. 

To Miss Grace Norton. 

Florence, Jan. 14th, '74. 
Dear Grace, 

... I have been jerked away from Rome, 
where I had been expecting to spend this winter, 
just as I was warming to the feast, and Florence, 



36 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i8?4 

tho' very well in itself, doesn't go so far as it 
might as a substitute for Rome. It's like having 
a great plum-pudding set down on the table before 
you, and then seeing it whisked away and finding 
yourself served with wholesome tapioca. My 
brother, after a month of great enjoyment and 
prosperity at Rome, had a stroke of malaria 
(happily quite light) which made it necessary 
for him to depart, and I am here charitably to 
keep him company. I oughtn't to speak light 
words of Florence to you, who know it so well, 
and with reason love it so well : and they are 
really words from my pen's end simply and not 
from my heart. I have an inextinguishable 
relish for Florence, and now that I have been back 
here a fortnight this early love is beginning to 
shake off timidly the ponderous shadow of Rome. 
. . . Just as I was leaving Rome came to me 
Charles's letter of Dec. 5th, for which pray thank 
him warmly. I gather from it that he is, in 
vulgar parlance, taking America rather hard, and 
I suppose your feelings and Jane's on the matter 
resemble his own. But it's not for me to blame 
him, for I take it hard enough even here in 
Florence, and though I have a vague theory that 
there is a way of being contented there, I am 
afraid that when I go back I shall need all my 
ingenuity to put it into practice. What Charles 
says about our civilization seems to me perfectly 
true, but practically I don't feel as if the facts 
were so melancholy. The great fact for us all 
there is that, relish Europe as we may, we belong 
much more to that than to this, and stand in a 
much less factitious and artificial relation to it. 
I feel forever how Europe keeps holding one at 
arm's length, and condemning one to a meagre 
scraping of the surface. I have been nearly a 
year in Italy and have hardly spoken to an 
Italian creature save washerwomen and waiters. 



AET. 30 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 37 

This, you'll say, is my own stupidity ; but 
granting this gladly, it proves that even a creature 
addicted as much to sentimentalizing as I am over 
the whole mise en scene of Italian life, doesn't 
find an easy initiation into what lies behind it. 
Sometimes I am overwhelmed with the pitiful- 
ness of this absurd want of reciprocity between 
Italy itself and all my rhapsodies about it. 
There is certainly, however, terribly little doubt 
that, practically, for those who have been happy 
in Europe even Cambridge the Brilliant is not 
an easy place to live in. When I saw you in 
London, plunged up to your necks in that full, 
rich, abundant, various London life, I knew that 
a day of reckoning was coming and I heaved a 
secret prophetic sigh. I can well understand 
Charles's saying that the memory of these and 
kindred things is a perpetual private [? pang]. 
But pity our poor bare country and don't revile. 
England and Italy, with their countless helps to 
life and pleasure, are the lands for happiness and 
self-oblivion. It would seem that in our great 
unendowed, unfurnished, unentertained and un- 
entertaining continent, where we all sit sniffing, 
as it were, the very earth of our foundations, we 
ought to have leisure to turn out something 
handsome from the very heart of simple human 
nature. But after I have been at home a couple 
of months I will tell you what I think. Mean- 
while I aspire to linger on here in Italy and make 
the most of it even in poor little overshadowed 
Florence and in a society limited to waiters and 
washerwomen. In your letter of last summer 
you amiably reproach me with not giving you 
personal tidings, and warn me in my letters 
against mistaking you for the Nation. Heaven 
forbid ! But I have no nouvelles intimes and 
in this solitary way of life I don't ever feel 
especially like a person. I write more or less in 



38 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1874 

the mornings, walk about in the afternoons, and 
doze over a book in the evenings. You can do 
as well as that in Cambridge. . . . 



To his Mother. 

Florence, 

May 17th, 1874. 
Dearest Mother, 

. . . The days pass evenly and rapidly 
here in my comfortable little dwelling on this 
lively (and also dusty) old Piazza Sta. Maria 
Novella. (The centre of the square is not paved 
and the dust hovers over it in clouds which compel 
one to live with closed windows. But I remove 
to my bedroom, which is on a side-street and very 
cool and clean.) Nothing particular happens to 
me and my time is passed between sleeping and 
scribbling (both of which I do very well,) lunching 
and dining, walking, and conversing with my 
small circle of acquaintance. . . . Tell Willy I 
thank him greatly for setting before me so vividly 
the question of my going home or staying. I feel 
equally with him the importance of the decision. 
I have been meaning, as you know, for some time 
past to return in the autumn, and I see as yet no 
sufficient reason for changing my plan. I shall 
go with the full prevision that I shall not find life 
at home simpatico, but rather painfully, and, as 
regards literary work, obstructively the reverse, 
and not even with the expectation that time will 
make it easier ; but simply on sternly practical 
grounds ; i.e. because I can find more abundant 
literary occupation by being on the premises and 
relieve you and father of your burdensome finan- 
cial interposition. But I shrink from Willy's 
apparent assumption that going now is to pledge 
myself to stay forever. I feel as if my three 



. 3i TO HIS MOTHER 39 

years in Europe (with much of them so maladif) 
were a very moderate allowance for one who gets 
so much out of it as I do ; and I don't think I 
could really hold up my head if I didn't hope to 
eat a bigger slice of the pudding (with a few more 
social plums in it, especially) at some future time. 
If at the end of a period at home I don't feel an 
overwhelming desire to come back, it will be so 
much gained ; but I should prepare myself for 
great deceptions if I didn't take the possibility 
of such desire into account. One oughtn't, I 
suppose, to bother too much about the future, 
but arrange as best one can with the present ; 
and the present bids me go home and try and get 
more things published. What makes the question 
particularly difficult to decide is that though I 
should make more money at home, American 
prices would devour it twice as fast ; but even 
allowing for this, I should keep ahead of my 
expenses better than here. I know that when 
the time comes it will be unutterably hard to 
leave and I shall be wondering whether, if I were 
to stay another year, I shouldn't propitiate the 
Minotaur and return more resignedly. But to 
this I shall answer that a year wouldn't be a 
tenth part enough and that besides, as things 
stand, I should be perplexed where to spend it. 
Florence, fond as I have grown of it, is worth far 
too little to me, socially, for me to think com- 
placently of another winter here. Here have I 
been living (in these rooms) for five weeks and 
not a creature, save Gryzanowski, has crossed my 
threshold counting out my little Italian, who 
comes twice a week, and whom I have to pay for 
his conversation ! If I knew any one in England 
I should be tempted to go there for a year, for 
there I could work to advantage i.e. get hold 
of new books to review. But I can't face, as it 
is, a year of British solitude. What I desire now 



40 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

more than anything else, and what would do me 
more good, is a regal of intelligent and suggestive 
society, especially male. But I don't know how 
or where to find it. It exists, I suppose, in Paris 
and London, but I can't get at it. I chiefly 
desire it because it would, I am sure, increase my 
powers of work. These are going very well, 
however, as it is, and I have for the present an 
absorbing task in my novel. Consider then that 
if nothing extremely unexpected turns up, I 
shall depart in the autumn. I have no present 
plans for the summer beyond ending my month 
in my rooms on the llth of June. I hope, 
dearest mammy, that you will be able to devise 
some agreeable plan for your own summer, and 
will spend it in repose and comfort. . . . Has 
the trunk reached Quincy St. ? Pray guard 
jealously my few clothes a summer suit and a 
coat, and two white waistcoats that I would 
give much for here, now. But don't let Father 
and Willy wear them out, as they will serve me 
still. Farewell, sweet mother. I must close. 
I wrote last asking you to have my credit re- 
newed. I suppose it has been done. Love 
abounding to all. I will write soon to Willy. I 
wrote lately to A. 

Yours ever, 

H. 



II 

PARIS AND LONDON 
(1875-1881) 

AFTER another uneventful American year at 
Cambridge (1874-5,) during which Roderick 
Hudson was running its course in the Atlantic 
Monthly, Henry James came to Europe again 
with the clear intention of staying for good. His 
first idea was to settle in Paris. There he would 
find the literary world with which he had the 
strongest affinity, and it does not seem to have 
occurred to him at the time to seek a European 
home anywhere else. His knowledge of England 
was still very slight, and he needed something 
more substantial to live and work upon than the 
romance of Italy. In Paris he settled therefore, 
in the autumn of 1875, taking rooms at 29 Rue 
du Luxembourg. He began to write The Ameri- 
can, to contribute Parisian Letters to the New 
York Tribune, and to frequent the society of a 
few of his compatriots. He made the valued 
acquaintance of Ivan Turgenev, and through him 
of the group which surrounded Gustave Flaubert 
Edmond de Goncourt, Alphonse Daudet, Guy 
de Maupassant, Zola and others. But the letters 
which follow will shew the kind of doubts that 
began to arise after a winter in Paris doubts of 
the possibility of Paris as a place where an Ameri- 

41 



42 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1375 si 

can imagination could really take root and flourish. 
He found the circle of literature tightly closed to 
outside influences ; it seemed to exclude all 
culture but its own after a fashion that aroused 
his opposition ; he speaks sarcastically on one 
occasion of having watched Turgenev and Flau- 
bert seriously discussing Daudet's Jack, while he 
reflected that none of the three had read, or knew 
English enough to read, Daniel Deronda. During 
a summer stay at Etretat these doubts increased, 
and when he went back to Paris in the autumn 
of 1876 he had already begun to feel the tug of 
an inclination towards London. His brother 
William seems to have given the final impulse 
which sent him over, and before the end of the 
year he was in London at last. 

He took rooms at 3 Bolton Street, just off 
Piccadilly, and at first found the change from 
' glittering, charming, civilised Paris ' rather rude. 
But within a few weeks he was deep in London, 
with doors unnumbered opening to him and a 
general welcome for the rising young novelist 
from America. Letter after letter was sent home 
with accounts of the visits and dinner-parties 
which were soon his habitual round. He quickly 
discovered that this was his appointed home and 
set himself deliberately to cultivate it. But his 
relief at finding a place of which he could really 
take possession was entirely compatible with 
candid criticism. Letter after letter, too, is filled 
with caustic reflections on the minds and manners 
of the English ; and as the following pages con- 
tain not a few of these, so it should here be pointed 
out that his correspondence was the only outlet 
open to these irrepressible sentiments, and that 
they must be seen in due proportion with the 
perfect courtesy of appreciation that he always 
shewed to his well-meaning hosts. He was very 
much alone in his observing detachment during 



1875-si PARIS AND LONDON 43 

these years. 4 I wish greatly,' he writes to Miss 
Norton about this time, ' you and Charles were 
here, so that I might have some one to say the 
things that are in me to ; I mean the things about 
England and the English the feelings, impres- 
sions, judgments, emotions of every kind that 
are being perpetually generated, and that I can't 
utter to a single Briton of them all with the 
smallest chance of being understood. . . . The 
absence of a sympathetic, compatriotic, intelli- 
gent spirit, like yours, is my greatest deprivation 
here, and everything is corked up.' 

But whatever the shortcomings of the English 
might be, London life closed round him and held 
him fast. He would break away for an occasional 
excursion abroad, or he would carry his work 
into seaside lodgings for the end of the summer. 
Otherwise he clung to London, with such country 
visits as sprang naturally from his numerous 
relations with the town and were simply an 
extension of these. During the years covered 
by the present section he spent some weeks in 
Rome towards the end of 1877, three months in 
Paris in the autumn of 1879, and two in Italy 
again, at Florence and Naples, in the following 
spring. By 1881 he was sufficiently acclimatised 
in London to feel the need of escaping from the 
4 season,' then so much more organised and ex- 
acting an institution than it has since become ; 
he went to Venice in March and did not return 
till July. But these were the only variations 
from the life of a ' cockney convaincu^ as he 
admitted himself to be. The wonder is that he 
found time under such conditions to accomplish 
the large amount of work he still put forth year 
by year. In spite of health that continued some- 
what uncertain, he was able to concentrate upon 
his writing in the midst of all distractions. Daisy 
Miller, The Europeans, Confidence, Washington 



44 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1375 si 

Square, and The Portrait of a Lady, all belong to 
the first five years of his London life, besides 
an unbroken stream of shorter pieces fiction, 
picturesque sketches, reviews of books con- 
tributed to several English and American peri- 
odicals. Time slipped by, and he began to wait 
upon the right opportunity for a long visit to his 
own country. It was not indeed that he felt 
himself to be losing touch with it ; his appetite 
for American news was unassuageable, and by 
means of a correspondence as copious as ever he 
jealously preserved and cherished every possible 
tie with his old home. But he turned to his 
own family, then as always afterwards, with an 
affection stimulated by his unfathered state in 
England. His parents were growing old, his 
elder brother (who had married in 1878) was 
beginning to enjoy and exhibit the maturity of 
his genius, and it was more than time for a 
renewal of associations on the spot. By the 
autumn of 1881 he had finished The Portrait of a 
Lady, the longest and in every way the most 
important of his works hitherto, and he could 
also feel that his grounding in London, so 
to call it, was solid and secure. After six years 
of absence he then saw America again. 



To his Father. 

29 Rue du Luxembourg. 

April llth [1876]. 
Dear Father, 

. . . The slender thread of my few personal 
relations hangs on, without snapping, but it 
doesn't grow very stout. You crave chiefly news, 
I suppose, about Ivan Sergeitch [Turgenev], whom 
I have lately seen several times. I spent a couple 
of hours with him at his room, some time since, 
and I have seen him otherwise at Mme. Viardot's. 
The latter has invited me to her musical parties 
(Thursdays) and to her Sundays en famille. I 
have been to a couple of the former and (as yet 
only) one of the latter. She herself is a most 
fascinating and interesting woman, ugly, yet 
also very handsome or, in the French sense, 
ires-belle. Her musical parties are rigidly musical 
and to me, therefore, rigidly boresome, especially 
as she herself sings very little. I stood the other 
night on my legs for three hours (from 11 till 2) in 
a suffocating room, listening to an interminable 
fiddling, with the only consolation that Gustave 
Dore, standing beside me, seemed as bored as 
myself. But when Mme. Viardot does sing, it is 
superb. She sang last time a scene from Gluck's 
Alcestis, which was the finest piece of musical 
declamation, of a grandly tragic sort, that I can 
conceive. Her Sundays seem rather dingy and 
calculated to remind one of Concord ' historical 
games ' etc. But it was both strange and sweet 

45 



46 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

to see poor Turgenev acting charades of the most 
extravagant description, dressed out in old shawls 
and masks, going on all fours etc. The charades 
are their usual Sunday evening occupation and 
the good faith with which Turgenev, at his age 
and with his glories, can go into them is a striking 
example of that spontaneity which Europeans 
have and we have not. Fancy Longfellow, Lowell, 
or Charles Norton doing the like, and every 
Sunday evening ! I am likewise gorged with 
music at Mme. de Blocqueville's, where I continue 
to meet Emile Montegut, whom I don't like so 
well as his writing, and don't forgive for having, 
a 1'avenir, spoiled his writing a little for me. 
Calling the other day on Mme. de B. I found with 
her M. Caro, the philosopher, a man in the ex- 
pression of whose mouth you would discover 
depths of dishonesty, but a most witty and 
agreeable personage. I had also the other day 
a very pleasant call upon Flaubert, whom I like 
personally more and more each time I see him. 
But I think I easily more than easily see all 
round him intellectually. There is something 
wonderfully simple, honest, kindly, and touchingly 
inarticulate about him. He talked of many 
things, of Theo. Gautier among others, who was 
his intimate friend. He said nothing new or 
rare about him, except that he thought him after 
the Pere Hugo the greatest of French poets, much 
above Alfred de Musset ; but Gautier in his 
extreme perfection was unique. And he recited 
some of his sonnets in a way to make them seem 
the most beautiful things in the world. Find 
in especial (in the volume I left at home) one 
called Les Portraits Ovales. ... I went down to 
Chartres the other day and had a charming time 
but I won't speak of it as I have done it in the 
Tribune. The American papers over here are 
accablants, and the vulgarity and repulsiveness 



A ET . 32 TO HIS FATHER 47 

of the Tribune, whenever I see it, strikes me so 
violently that I feel tempted to stop my letter. 
But I shall not, though of late there has been a 
painful dearth of topics to write about. But 
soon comes the Salon. ... I am very glad indeed 
that Howells is pleased with my new tale ; I am 
now actively at work upon it. I am well pleased 
that the Atlantic has obtained it. His own 
novel I have not read, but he is to send it to 
me. 

Your home news has all been duly digested. 
Tell Willy that I will answer his most interesting 
letter specifically ; and say to my dearest sister 
that if she will tell me which black or white 
she prefers I will send her gratis a fichu of ecru 
lace, which I am told is the proper thing for her 
to have. 

Ever, dearest daddy, your loving son, 

H. JAMES jr. 



To W. D. Howells. 

The ' story ' was The American, which began to appear 
in The Atlantic Monthly in June, 1876. 

29 Rue du Luxembourg, Paris. 

May 28th [1876]. 
Dear Howells, 

I have just received (an hour ago) your 
letter of May 14th. I shall be very glad to do 
my best to divide my story so that it will make 
twelve numbers, and I think I shall probably 
succeed. Of course 26 pp. is an impossible in- 
stalment for the magazine. I had no idea the 
second number would make so much, though I 
half expected your remonstrance. I shall en- 
deavour to give you about 14 pp., and to keep 
doing it for seven or eight months more. I sent 



48 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1876 

you the other day a fourth part, a portion of 
which, I suppose, you will allot to the fifth. 

My heart was touched by your regret that I 
hadn't given you " a great deal of my news " 
though my reason suggested that I could not have 
given you what there was not to give. " La plus 
belle fille du monde ne peut donner que ce qu'elle 
a." I turn out news in very small quantities- 
it is impossible to imagine an existence less per- 
vaded with any sort of chiaroscuro. I am turning 
into an old, and very contented, Parisian : I feel 
as if I had struck roots into the Parisian soil, and 
were likely to let them grow tangled and ten- 
acious there. It is a very comfortable and profit- 
able place, on the whole I mean, especially, on 
its general and cosmopolitan side. Of pure 
Parisianism I see absolutely nothing. The great 
merit of the place is that one can arrange one's 
life here exactly as one pleases that there are 
facilities for every kind of habit and taste, and 
that everything is accepted and understood. 
Paris itself meanwhile is a sort of painted back- 
ground which keeps shifting and changing, and 
which is always there, to be looked at when you 
please, and to be most easily and comfortably 
ignored when you don't. All this, if you were 
only here, you would feel much better than I 
can tell you and you would write some happy 
piece of your prose about it which would make 
me feel it better, afresh. Ergo,, come when you 
can ! I shall probably be here still. Of course 
every good thing is still better in spring, and in 
spite of much mean weather I have been liking 
Paris these last weeks more than ever. In fact 
I have accepted destiny here, under the vernal 
influence. If you sometimes read my poor letters 
in the Tribune, you get a notion of some of the 
things I see and do. I suppose also you get some 
gossip about me from Quincy St. Besides this 



. 33 TO W. D. HOWELLS 49 

there is not a great deal to tell. I have seen a 
certain number of people all winter who have 
helped to pass the time, but I have formed but 
one or two relations of permanent value, and 
which I desire to perpetuate. I have seen almost 
nothing of the literary fraternity, and there are 
fifty reasons why I should not become intimate 
with them. I don't like their wares, and they 
don't like any others ; and besides, they are not 
accueillants. Turgenev is worth the whole heap 
of them, and yet he himself swallows them down 
in a manner that excites my extreme wonder. 
But he is the most loveable of men and takes all 
things easily. He is so pure and strong a genius 
that he doesn't need to be on the defensive as 
regards his opinions and enjoyments. The mis- 
takes he may make don't hurt him. His modesty 
and naivete are simply infantine. I gave him 
some time since the message you sent him, and 
he bade me to thank you very kindly and to say 
that he had the most agreeable memory of your 
two books. He has just gone to Russia to bury 
himself for two or three months on his estate, 
and try and finish a long novel he has for three 
or four years been working upon. I hope 
to heaven he may. I suspect he works little 
here. 

I interrupted this a couple of hours since to go 
out and pay a visit to Gustave Flaubert, it being 
his time of receiving, and his last Sunday in Paris, 
and I owing him a farewell. He is a very fine old 
fellow, and the most interesting man and strongest 
artist of his circle. I had him for an hour 
alone, and then came in his " following," talking 
much of Emile Zola's catastrophe Zola having 
just had a serial novel for which he was hand- 
somely paid interrupted on account of protests 
from provincial subscribers against its indecency. 
The opinion apparently was that it was a bore, 



50 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i876 

but that it could only do the book good on its 
appearance in a volume. Among your tribula- 
tions as editor, I take it that this particular one 
is not in store for you. On my way down from 
Flaubert's I met poor Zola climbing the staircase, 
looking very pale and sombre, and I saluted him 
with the flourish natural to a contributor who has 
just been invited to make his novel last longer 
yet. . . . 

Your inquiry " Why I don't go to Spain ? v 
is sublime is what Philip van Artevelde says of 
the Lake of Como, " softly sublime, profusely 
fair ! ?: I shall spend my summer in the most 
tranquil and frugal hole I can unearth in France, 
and I have no prospect of travelling for some time 
to come. The Waverley Oaks seem strangely 
far away yet I remember them well, and the 
day we went there. I am sorry I am not to see 
your novel sooner, but I applaud your energy in 
proposing to change it. The printed thing always 
seems to me dead and done with. I suppose you 
will write something about Philadelphia I hope 
so, as otherwise I am afraid I shall know nothing 
about it. I salute your wife and children a thou- 
sand times and wish you an easy and happy 
summer and abundant inspiration. 

Yours very faithfully, 

H. JAMES jr. 

To William James. 

Etretat, 

July 29th [1876]. 
Dear Wm. 

... I have little to tell you of myself. 
I shall be here till August 15-20, and shall then 
go and spend the rest of the month with the 
Childes, near Orleans (an ugly country, I believe,) 
and after that try to devise some frugal scheme 



A ET . 33 TO WILLIAM JAMES 51 

for keeping out of Paris till as late as possible in 
the autumn, The winter there always begins 
soon enough. I am much obliged to you for your 
literary encouragement and advice glad especi- 
ally you like my novel. I can't judge it. Your 
remarks on my French tricks in my letters are 
doubtless most just, and shall be heeded. But 
it's an odd thing that such tricks should grow at 
a time when my last layers of resistance to a 
long-encroaching weariness and satiety with the 
French mind and its utterance has fallen from me 
like a garment. I have done with 'em, forever, 
and am turning English all over. I desire only 
to feed on English life and the contact of English 
minds I wish greatly I knew some. Easy and 
smooth-flowing as life is in Paris, I would throw 
it over tomorrow for an even very small chance 
to plant myself for a while in England. If I had 
but a single good friend in London I would go 
thither. I have got nothing important out of 
Paris nor am likely to. My life there makes a 
much more succulent figure in your letters, my 
mention of its thin ingredients as it comes back 
to me, than in my own consciousness. A good 
deal of Boulevard and third-rate Americanism : 
few retributive relations otherwise. I know the 
Theatre Fran9ais by heart ! 

Daniel Deronda (Dan'l himself) is indeed a 
dead, though amiable, failure. But the book is 
a large affair ; I shall write an article of some 
sort about it. All desire is dead within me to 
produce something on George Sand ; though 
perhaps I shall, all the same, mercenarily and 
mechanically though only if I am forced. Please 
make a point of mentioning, by the way, whether 
a letter of mine, upon her, exclusively, did appear 
lately in the Tribune. I don't see the T. regularly 
and have missed it. They misprint sadly. I 
never said, e.g., in announcing her death, that 



52 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

she was ''fearfully shy ' : I used no such vile 
adverb, but another I forget which. 

I am hoping from day to day for another letter 
from home, as the period has come round. ... I 
hope your own plans for the summer will prosper, 
and health and happiness be your portion. Give 
much love to Father, and to the ladies. 

Yours always, 

H. JAMES jr. 



To William James. 

H. J. had by this time been settled in London for 
some three months. 

Athenaeum Club, Pall Mall. 

March 29th, '77. 
Dear Wm. 

. . . London life jogs along with me, 
pausing every now and then at some more or 
less succulent patch of herbage. I was almost 
ashamed to tell you through mother that I, 
unworthy, was seeing a bit of Huxley. I went 
to his house again last Sunday evening a pleas- 
ant, easy, no-dress-coat sort of house (in our old 
Marlboro' Place, by the way.) Huxley is a very 
genial, comfortable being yet with none of the 
noisy and windy geniality of some folks here, 
whom you find with their backs turned when you 
are responding to the remarks that they have 
made you. But of course my talk with him is 
mere amiable generalities. These, however, he 
likes to cultivate, for recreation's sake, of a Sunday 
evening. (The thundering Spencer I have not 
lately seen here.) Some mornings since, I break- 
fasted with Lord Houghton again he invites me 
most dotingly. Present : John Morley, Goldwin 
Smith (pleasanter than my prejudice against 
him,) Henry Cowper, Frederick Wedmore, and a 



AET. 33 TO WILLIAM JAMES 53 

monstrous cleverly, agreeably talking M.P., Mr. 
Otway. John Morley has a most agreeable face, 
but he hardly opened his mouth. (He is, like so 
many of the men who have done much here, very 
young-looking.) Yesterday I dined with Lord 
Houghton with Gladstone, Tennyson, Dr. Schlie- 
mann (the excavator of old Mycenae, etc.) and half 
a dozen other men of ' high culture.' I sat next 
but one to the Bard and heard most of his talk, 
which was all about port wine and tobacco : he 
seems to know much about them, and can drink 
a whole bottle of port at a sitting with no incom- 
modity. He is very swarthy and scraggy, and 
strikes one at first as much less handsome than 
his photos : but gradually you see that it's a 
face of genius. He had I know not what sim- 
plicity, speaks with a strange rustic accent and 
seemed altogether like a creature of some prim- 
ordial English stock, a thousand miles away from 
American manufacture. Behold me after dinner 
conversing affably with Mr. Gladstone not by 
my own seeking, but by the almost importunate 
affection of Lord H. But I was glad of a chance 
to feel the ' personality ' of a great political 
leader or as G. is now thought here even, I 
think, by his partisans, ex-leader. That of Glad- 
stone is very fascinating his urbanity extreme 
his eye that of a man of genius and his apparent 
self -surrender to what he is talking of, without a 
flaw. He made a great impression on me 
greater than any one I have seen here : though 
'tis perhaps owing to my naivete, and unfamili- 
arity with statesmen. . . . 

Did I tell you that I had been to the Oxford and 
Cambridge boat-race ? But I have paragraphed 
it in the Nation, to which I refer you. It was 
for about two minutes a supremely beautiful 
sight ; but for those two minutes I had to wait 
a horribly bleak hour and a half, shivering, in 



54 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1877 

mid-Thames, under the sour March-wind. I 
can't think of any other adventures : save that 
I dined two or three days since at Mrs. Godfrey 
Lushington's (they are very nice blushing people) 
with a parcel of quiet folk : but next to a divine 
little Miss Lushington (so pretty English girls 
can be !) who told me that she lived in the depths 
of the City, at Guy's Hospital, whereof her father 
is administrator. Guy's Hospital of which I 
have read in all old English novels. So does one 
move all the while here on identified ground. 
This is the eve of Good Friday, a most lugubrious 
day here and all the world (save 4,000,000 or so) 
are out of London for the ten days' Easter holiday. 
I think of making two or three excursions of a 
few hours apiece, to places near London whence 
I can come back to sleep : Canterbury, Chichester 
etc. (but as I shall commemorate them for lucre 
I won't talk of them thus.) 

Farewell, dear brother, I won't prattle further. 
. . . Encourage Alice to write to me. My bless- 
ings on yourself from your fraternal 

H. J. jr. 

To Miss Grace Norton. 

3 Bolton St., Piccadilly. 

August 7th, 1877. 
Dear Grace, 

... I feel now more at home in London 
than anywhere else in the world so much so that 
I am afraid my sense of peculiarities, my appreci- 
ation of people and things, as London people and 
things, is losing its edge. I have taken a great 
fancy to the place ; I won't say to the people 
and things ; and yet these must have a part in it. 
It makes a very interesting residence at any rate ; 
not the ideal and absolutely interesting but the 
relative and comparative one. I have, however, 



AET. 34 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 55 

formed no intimacies not even any close acquaint- 
ances. I incline to believe that I have passed 
the age when one forms friendships ; or that 
every one else has. I have seen and talked a 
little with a considerable number of people, but 
I have become familiar with almost none. To 
tell the truth, I find myself a good deal more of 
a cosmopolitan (thanks to that combination of the 
continent and the U.S.A. which has formed my 
lot) than the average Briton of culture ; and to 
be to have become by force of circumstances a 
cosmopolitan is of necessity to be a good deal 
alone. I don't think that London, by itself, does 
a very great deal for people for its residents ; 
and those of them who are not out of the general 
social herd are potentially deadly provincial. I 
have become in all these years as little provincial 
as possible. I don't say it from fatuity and I 
may say it to you ; and yet to be so is, I think, 
necessary for forming here many close relations. 
So my interest in London is chiefly that of an 
observer in a place where there is most in the 
world to observe. I see no essential reason how- 
ever why I should not some day see much more 
of certain Britons, and think that I very possibly 
may. But I doubt if I should ever marry or 
want to marry an English wife ! This is an 
extremely interesting time here ; and indeed 
that is one reason why I have not been able to 
bring myself to go abroad, as I have been planning 
all this month to do. I can't give up the morning 
papers ! I am not one of the outsiders who thinks 
that the " greatness " of England is now exploded ; 
but there mingles with my interest in her prospects 
and doings in all this horrible Eastern Question 
a sensible mortification and sadness. She has 
not resolutely played a part even a wrong one. 
She has been weak and helpless and (above all) 
unskilful ; she has drifted and stumbled and not 



56 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1377 

walked like a great nation. One has a feeling 
that the affairs of Europe are really going to be 
settled without her. At any rate the cynical, 
brutal, barbarous pro- Turkish attitude of an 
immense mass of people here (I am no fanatic 
for Russia, but I think the Emperor of R. might 
have been treated like a gentleman !) has 
thrown into vivid relief the most discreditable 
side of the English character. I don't think it 
is the largest side, by any means ; but when one 
comes into contact with it one is ready to give up 
the race ! 

I saw the Lowells and can testify to their 
apparent good-humour and prosperity. It was 
a great pleasure to talk with Lowell ; but he is 
morbidly Anglophobic ; though when an English- 
man asked me if he was not I denied it. I envied 
him his residence in a land of colour and warmth, 
of social freedom and personal picturesqueness ; 
so many absent things here, where the dusky 
misery and the famous " hypocrisy r which 
foreign writers descant so much upon, seem 
sometimes to usurp the whole field of vision. 
But I shall in all probability go abroad myself by 
Sept. 1st : go straight to our blessed Italy. I 
hope to be a while at Siena, where you may be 
sure that I shall think of you. . . . 

Yours always, dear Grace, in all tender affec- 
tion, 

H. JAMES jr. 

To Miss Grace Norton. 

Paris, Dec. 15th [1877]. 
Dear Grace, 

I hoped, after getting your letter of October 
15th, to write you from Siena, but I never got 
there. I only got to Rome (where your letter 
came to me,) and in Rome I spent the whole of 



A ET . 34 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 57 

the seven weeks that I was able to give to Italy. 
I have just come back, and am on my way to 
London, whither I find I gravitate as toward the 
place in the world in which, on the whole, I feel 
most at home. I went directly to Rome some 
seven weeks since, and came directly back ; but 
I spent a few days in Florence on my way down. 
Italy was still more her irresistible ineffable old 
self than ever, and getting away from Rome was 
really no joke. In spite of the " changes " and 
they are very perceptible the old enchantment 
of Rome, taking its own good time, steals over 
you and possesses you, till it becomes really 
almost a nuisance and an importunity. That is, 
it keeps you from working, from staying indoors, 
etc. To do those things in sufficient measure one 
must live in an ugly country ; and that is why, 
instead of lingering in that golden climate, I am 
going back to poor, smutty, dusky, Philistine 
London. Florence had never seemed to me 
more lovely. Empty, melancholy, bankrupt (as 
I believe she is), she is turning into an old sleeping, 
soundless city, like Pisa. This sensible sadness, 
with the glorious weather, gave the place a great 
charm. The Bootts were there, staying in a 
villa at Bellosguardo, and I spent many hours in 
their garden, sitting in the autumn sunshine and 
staring stupidly at that never-to-be-enough-appre- 
ciated view of the little city and the mountains. . . . 
I have had an autumn of things rather 
than of people, and have not much to relate in 
regard to human nature. Here in Paris, for a 
few days, I find I know really too many people- 
especially as they are for the most part acquaint- 
ances retained for the sake of social decency 
rather than of strong sentiment. They consume 
all my time, so that I can't even go to the 
Theatre Franais ! In Rome I found the relics 
and fragments of the ancient American group, 



58 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

which has been much broken up or rather 
broken down. But neither in its meridian nor 
in its decline has it had any very irresistible 
charms. The chief quality acquired by Ameri- 
cans who have lived thirty years in Europe seems 
to me a fierce susceptibility on the subject of 
omitted calls. 

Public matters here, just now, are more inter- 
esting than private and in France indeed are 
as interesting as can be. Parliamentary govern- 
ment is really being put to the test, and bearing 
it. The poor foolish old Marshal has at last 
succumbed to the liberal majority, and has 
apparently no stomach to renew his resistance. 
Plevna is taken by the Russians and England is 
supposed to be dreadfully snubbed. But one 
is only snubbed if one feels it, and it remains to 
be seen how England will take the Russian success. 
But one has a feeling now to me it is a very 
painful one that England will take anything ; 
that over-cautious and somewhat sordid counsels 
will always prevail. On the continent, certainly, 
her ancient " prestige " is gone ; and I almost 
wish she would fight in a bad cause, if only to 
shew that she still can, and that she is not one 
vast, money-getting Birmingham. I really think 
we are assisting at the political decadence of our 
mighty mother-land. When so mealy-mouthed 
an organ as the Times is correctly held to re- 
present the sentiment of the majority, this must 
be. But I must say that even the " decline " of 
England seems to me a tremendous and even, 
almost, an inspiring spectacle, and if the British 
Empire is once more to shrink up into that 
plethoric little island, the process will be the 
greatest drama in history ! 

This will reach you about Xmas-time, and I 
imagine you reading it at a window that looks out 
upon the snow-laden pines and hemlocks of Shady 



AET. 34 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 59 

Hill. That white winter light that is sent up 
into a room from the deep snow is something that 
one quite loses the memory of here ; and yet, as 
I think of it now, it is associated in my mind with 
all kinds of pleasant and comfortable indoor 
scenes. I am afraid that, for you, the season 
will have no great animation ; but you will, I 
suppose, see a good deal of infantine exhilaration 
about you. . . . 

To William James. 

3 Bolton St., W. 

May 1st, '78. 
Dear William, 

. . There were many interesting allusions 
in your letter which I should like to take up one 
by one. I should like to see the fair Hellenists 
of Baltimore ; and I greatly regret that, living 
over here, my person cannot profit by my Ameri- 
can reputation. It is a great loss to have one's 
person in one country and one's glory in another, 
especially when there are lovely young women 
in the case. Neither can one's glory, then, profit 
by one's person as I flatter myself, even in your 
jealous teeth, that mine might in Baltimore ! ! 
Also about my going to Washington and its being 
my c duty,' etc. I think there is much in that ; 
but I can't whisk about the world quite so actively 
as you seem to recommend. It would be great 
folly for me, a peine established in London and 
getting a footing here, to break it all off for the 
sake of going to spend four or five months in 
Washington. I expect to spend many a year 
in London I have submitted myself without 
reserve to that Londonizing process of which 
the effect is to convince you that, having lived 
here, you may, if need be, abjure civilisation 
and bury yourself in the country, but may not, 



60 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

in pursuit of civilisation, live in any smaller town. 
I am still completely an outsider here, and my 
only chance for becoming a little of an insider (in 
that limited sense in which an American can ever 
do so) is to remain here for the present. After 
that a couple of years hence I shall go home 
for a year, embrace you all, and see everything 
of the country I can, including Washington. 
Meanwhile, if one will take what comes, one is 
by no means cut off from getting impressions 
here. ... I know what I am about, and I have 
always my eyes on my native land. 

I am very glad that Ho wells' s play seemed so 
pretty, on the stage. Much of the dialogue, as 
it read, was certainly charming ; but I should 
have been afraid of the slimness and un-scenic 
quality of the plot. For myself (in answer to 
your adjuration) it has long been my most earnest 
and definite intention to commence at play- writ- 
ing as soon as I can. This will be soon, and then 
I shall astound the world ! My inspection of the 
French theatre will fructify. I have thoroughly 
mastered Dumas, Augier, and Sardou (whom it 
is greatly lacking to Howells by the way to 
have studied :) and I know all they know and a 
great deal more besides. Seriously speaking, I 
have a great many ideas on this subject, and I 
sometimes feel tempted to retire to some frugal 
village, for twelve months, where, my current 
expenses being inconsiderable, I might have 
leisure to work them off. Even if I could only 
find some manager or publisher sufficiently de- 
voted to believe in this and make me an allowance 
for such a period, I would afterwards make a 
compact and sign it with my blood, to reimburse 
him in thousands. But I shall not have to come 
to this, or to depend upon it. 

I received a few days since your article on H. 
Spencer, but I have not yet had time to read it. 



A ET . 35 TO WILLIAM JAMES 61 

I shall very presently attack I won't say under- 
stand it. Mother speaks to me of your articles 
in Renouvier's magazine and why have you not 
sent me those ? I wish you would do so, punc- 
tually. I met. Herbert Spencer the other Sunday 
at George Eliot's, whither I had at last bent my 
steps. G. H. Lewes introduced me to him as an 
American ; and it seemed to me that at this fact, 
coupled with my name, his attention was aroused 
and he was on the point of asking me if I were 
related to you. But something instantly hap- 
pened to separate me from him, and soon after- 
wards he went away. The Leweses were very 
urbane and friendly, and I think that I shall have 
the right dorenavant to consider myself a Sunday 
habitue. The great G. E. herself is both sweet 
and superior, and has a delightful expression in 
her large, long, pale equine face. I had my turn 
at sitting beside her and being conversed with 
in a low, but most harmonious tone ; and batin 
a tendency to aborder only the highest themes 
have no fault to find with her. . . . 

We expect to hear at any hour that war has 
broken out ; and yet it may not be. It will be 
a good deal of a scandal if it does especially if 
the English find themselves fighting side by side 
with the bloody, filthy Turks and their own 
Indian Sepoys. And to think that a clever Jew 
should have juggled old England into it ! The 
papers are full of the Paris exhibition, which 
opens today ; but it leaves me perfectly incurious. 
Blessings on all from yours fraternally, 

H. JAMES jr. 



62 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES ms 



To Miss ^4fo'c James. 

H. J. was at this time contributing a series of articles 
on English life and letters to the American Nation. 

Tilly pronie, Aberdeen. 

Sept. 15th, 1878. 
Dearest Sister, 

On this howling stormy Sunday, on a 
Scotch mountainside, I don't know what I can 
do better than give you a little old-world news. 
I have had none of yours in some time ; but I 
venture to interpret that as a good sign and to 
believe that peace and plenty hovers over Quincy 
Street. I shall continue in this happy faith and 
in the belief that you are gently putting forth 
your strength again, until the contrary is proved. 
Behold me in Scotland and very well pleased to 
be here. I am staying with the Clarks, of whom 
you have heard me speak and than whom there 
could not be a more tenderly hospitable couple. 
Sir John caresses me like a brother, and her 
ladyship supervises me like a mother. ... I 
have been here for four or five days and I feel 
that I have done a very good thing in coming 
to Scotland. Once you get the hang of it, and 
apprehend the type, it is a most beautiful and 
admirable little country fit, for ' distinction ' 
etc., to make up a trio with Italy and Greece. 
There is a little very good company in the house, 
including my brilliant friend Lady Hamilton 
Gordon, and every day has brought with it some 
pretty entertainment. I wish I could relate 
these episodes in detail ; but I shall probably 
do a little of it in mercenary print. On the first 
day I went to some Highland sports, given by 
Lord Huntly, and to a sumptuous lunch, in a 
coquettish marquee, which formed an episode of 



A ET . 35 TO MISS ALICE JAMES 63 

the same. The next day I spent roaming over 
the moors and hills, in company with a remark- 
ably nice young fellow staying in the house, 
Sidney Holland, grandson of the late Sir Henry 
(his father married a daughter of Sir Chas. 
Trevelyan, sister of my friend Mrs. Dugdale). 
Nothing can be more breezy and glorious than a 
ramble on these purple hills and a lounge in the 
sun- warmed heather. The real way to enjoy 
them is of course supposed to be with an eye to 
the grouse and partridges ; but this is, happily, 
little of a shooting house, though Holland keeps 
the table one of the best in England (or rather 
in Scotland, which is saying more) supplied 
with game. The next day I took part in a 
cavalcade across the hills to see a ruined castle ; 
and in the evening, if you please, stiff and sore 
as I was, and am still, with my exploits in the 
saddle, which had been sufficiently honourable, 
I went to a ball fifteen miles distant. The ball 
was given by a certain old Mr. Cunliffe Brooks, 
a great proprietor hereabouts and possessor of a 
shooting-lodge with a ball-room ; a fact which 
sufficiently illustrates the luxury of these Anglo- 
Scotch arrangements. At the ball was the famous 
beauty Mrs. Langtry, who was staying in the house 
and who is probably for the moment the most 
celebrated woman in England. She is in sooth 
divinely handsome and it was ' extremely odd ' 
to see her dancing a Highland reel (which she 
had been practising for three days) with young 
Lord Huntly, who is a very handsome fellow and 
who in his kilt and tartan, leaping and hooting 
and romping, opposite to this London divinity, 
offered a vivid reminder of ancient Caledonian 
barbarism and of the roughness which lurks in 
all British amusements and only wants a pre- 
text to explode. We came home from our ball 
(where I took out two young ladies who had gone 



64 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

with us for a polka apiece) at four a.m., and I 
found it difficult on that morning, at breakfast, 
to comply with that rigid punctuality which is 
the custom of the house. . . . To-day our fine 
weather has come to an end and we are closely 
involved in a ferocious wet tornado. But I am 
glad of the rest and quiet, and I have just bolted 
out of the library to escape the ' morning service,' 
read by the worthy Nevin, the American Episcopal 
chaplain in Rome, who is staying here, to which 
the dumb and decent servants are trooping in. 
I am fast becoming a good enough Englishman 
to respect inveterately my own habits and do, 
wherever I may be, only exactly what I want. 
This is the secret of prosperity here provided 
of course one has a certain number of sociable 
and conformable habits, and civil inclinations, 
as a starting-point. After that, the more positive 
your idiosyncrasies the more positive the con- 
venience. But it is drawing toward lunch, and 
I can't carry my personality quite so far as to be 
late for that. 

I have said enough, dear sister, to make you 
see that I continue to see the world with perhaps 
even enviable profit. But don't envy me too 
much ; for the British country-house has at 
moments, for a cosmopolitanised American, an 
insuperable flatness. On the other hand, to do 
it justice, there is no doubt of its being one of the 
ripest fruits of time and here in Scotland, where 
you get the conveniences of Mayfair dovetailed 
into the last romanticism of nature of the 
highest results of civilisation. Such as it is, at 
any rate, I shall probably have a little more of it. 
. . . Scotland is decidedly a thing to see and which 
it would have been idiocy to have foregone. Did 
I tell you I was now London correspondent of 
the Nation ? Farewell, dearest child and sister. 
I wish I could blow you a little of the salu- 



35 TO MISS ALICE JAMES 65 

brity of bonnie Scotland. The lunch-bell is 
striking up and I hurry off with comprehensive 
blessings. 

Ever your faithfullest 

H. J. jr. 



To William James. 

The brief allusion at the end of this letter to two memor- 
able visits will recall the picture he long afterwards made 
of them, and of the lady who inducted him, in The Middle 
Years. The closing paragraph of Daisy Miller, it may 
be mentioned, gives a glance at the hero's subsequent 
history and a hint that he became ' much interested in a 
clever foreign lady.' The story about to appear in 
the Cornhill was An International Episode. 

Devonshire Club, St. James's, S.W. 

Nov. 14th, '78. 
My dear William, 

... I was much depressed on reading 
your letter by your painful reflections on The 
Europeans ; but now, an hour having elapsed, 
I am beginning to hold up my head a little ; the 
more so as I think I myself estimate the book very 
justly and am aware of its extreme slightness. 
I think you take these things too rigidly and 
unimaginatively too much as if an artistic ex- 
periment were a piece of conduct, to which one's 
life were somehow committed ; but I think also 
that you're quite right in pronouncing the book 
4 thin ' and empty. I don't at all despair, yet, 
of doing something fat. Meanwhile I hope you 
will continue to give me, when you can, your free 
impression of my performances. It is a great 
thing to have some one write to one of one's 
things as if one were a third person, and you are 
the only individual who will do this. I don't 
think however you are always right, by any 
means. As for instance in your objection to the 



66 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

closing paragraph of Daisy Miller, which seems 
to me queer and narrow, and as regards which I 
don't seize your point of view. J'en appelle to 
the sentiment of any other story-teller whatso- 
ever ; I am sure none such would wish the 
paragraph away. You may say ' Ah, but other 
readers would.' But that is the same ; for the 
teller is but a more developed reader. I don't 
trust your judgment altogether (if you will permit 
me to say so) about details ; but I think you are 
altogether right in returning always to the im- 
portance of subject. I hold to this, strongly ; 
and if I don't as yet seem to proceed upon it more, 
it is because, being c very artistic,' I have a 
constant impulse to try experiments of form, in 
which I wish to not run the risk of wasting or 
gratuitously using big situations. But to these 
I am coming now. It is something to have learned 
how to write, and when I look round me and see 
how few people (doing my sort of work) know 
how (to my sense,) I don't regret my step-by- 
step evolution. I don't advise you however to 
read the two last things I have written one a 
thing in the Dec. and Jan. Cornhill, which I will 
send home ; and the other a piece I am just 
sending to Ho wells. They are each quite in the 
same manner as The Europeans. 

I have written you a letter after all. I am 
tired and must stop. I went into the country 
the other day to stay with a friend a couple of 
days (Mrs. Greville) and went with her to lunch 
with Tennyson, who, after lunch, read us Locksley 
Hall. The next day we went to George Eliot's. 

Blessings on Alice. Ever your 

H. J. jr. 



. 35 TO HIS MOTHER 67 



To his Mother. 

3 Bolton St., W. 

January 18th [1879]. 

My dearest Mother, 

I have before me your letter of December 
30th, with its account of your Christmas festivities 
and other agreeable talk, and I endeavour on this 
' beastly ' winter night, before my carboniferous 
hearth, to transport myself into the family circle. 

Mrs. Kemble has returned to town for the 
winter an event in which I always take pleasure, 
as she is certainly one of the women I know whom 
I like best. I confess I find people in general 
very vulgar-minded and superficial and it is 
only by a pious fiction, to keep myself going, and 
keep on the social harness, that I succeed in 
postulating them as anything else or better. It 
is therefore a kind of rest and refreshment to see 
a woman who (extremely annoying as she some- 
times is) gives one a positive sense of having a 
deep, rich, human nature and having cast off all 
vulgarities. The people of this world seem to me 
for the most part nothing but surface, and 
sometimes oh ye gods ! such desperately poor 
surface ! Mrs. Kemble has no organised surface 
at all ; she is like a straight deep cistern without 
a cover, or even, sometimes, a bucket, into -which, 
as a mode of intercourse, one must tumble with a 
splash. You mustn't judge her by her indifferent 
book, which is no more a part of her than a pud- 
ding she might make. . . . Please tell William 
and Alice that I received a short time since their 
kind note, written on the eve of their going to 
Newport, and complimenting me on the first part 
of the International Episode. You will have 
read the second part by this time, and I hope that 
you won't, like many of my friends here (as I 



68 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1379 

partly know and partly suspect,) take it ill of me 
as against my ' British entertainers.' It seems to 
me myself that I have been very delicate ; but I 
shall keep off dangerous ground in future. It is 
an entirely new sensation for them (the people 
here) to be (at all delicately) ironised or satirised, 
from the American point of view, and they don't 
at all relish it. Their conception of the normal 
in such a relation is that the satire should be all on 
their side against the Americans ; and I suspect 
that if one were to push this a little further one 
would find that they are extremely sensitive. But 
I like them too much and feel too kindly to them 
to go into the satire-business or even the light- 
hpnical in any case in which it would wound them 
even if in such a case I should see my way to it 
very clearly. Macmillan is just on the point of 
bringing out Daisy Miller, The International 
Episode, and Four Meetings in two little big- 
printed volumes, like those of the Europeans. 
There is every reason to expect for them a very 
good success, as Daisy M. has been, as I have 
told you before, a really quite extraordinary hit. 
I will send you the new volumes. . . . Farewell, 
dearest Mother. I send my filial duty to father, 
who I hope is worrying comfortably through the 
winter (I am afraid that since you wrote you have 
had severe weather) and looking and listening 
always for a letter, remain your very lovingest 

H. JAMES jr. 



AET. 36 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 69 



To Miss Grace Norton. 

The 'short novel' he was now just finishing was 
Confidence. 

3 Bolton St., W. 
Sunday a.m., June 8th [1879]. 
My dear Grace, 

... It is difficult to talk to you about my 
impressions it takes a great deal of space to 
generalise ; and (when one is talking of London) 
it takes even more to specify ! I am afraid also, 
in truth, that I am living here too long to be an 
observer I am sinking into dull British accep- 
tance and conformity. The other day I was 
talking to a very clever foreigner a German (if 
you can admit the " clever ") who had lived a long 
time in England, and of whom I had asked some 
opinion. " Oh, I know nothing of the English," 
he said, " I have lived here too long twenty 
years. The first year I really knew a great deal. 
But I have lost it ! ' : That is getting to be my 
state of mind and I am sometimes really appalled 
at the matter of course way of looking at the 
indigenous life and manners into which I am 
gradually dropping ! I am losing my standard 
my charming little standard that I used to think 
so high ; my standard of wit, of grace, of good 
manners, of vivacity, of urbanity, of intelligence, 
of what makes an easy and natural style of inter- 
course ! And this in consequence of my having 
dined out during the past winter 107 times ! When 
I come home you will think me a sad barbarian 
I may not even, just at first, appreciate your fine 
points ! You must take that speech about my 
standard with a grain of salt but excuse me ; I 
am treating you a proof of the accusation I have 
brought against myself as if you were also a dull- 
eyed Briton. The truth is I am so fond of London 



70 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1879 

that I can afford to abuse it and London is on 
the whole such a fine thing that it can afford to 
be abused ! It has all sorts of superior 
qualities, but it has also, and English life, 
generally, and the English character have, a 
certain number of great plump nourishing ugli- 
nesses and drearinesses which offer themselves 
irresistibly as pin-cushions to criticism and irony. 
The British mind is so totally un-ironical in 
relation to itself that this is a perpetual tempta- 
tion. You will know the things I mean you 
will remember them let that suffice. Non ragio- 
niam di lor ! I don't suppose you will envy me 
for having dined out 107 times you will simply 
wonder what can have induced me to perpetrate 
such a folly, and how I have survived to tell the 
tale ! I admit that it is enough for the present, 
and for the rest of the summer I shall take in sail. 
When the warm weather comes I find London 
evenings very detestable, and I marvel at the 
powers of endurance of my fellow " factors," as 
it is now the fashion to call human beings 
(actors poor blundering unapplauded Come- 
dians would be a better name.) Would you like 
a little gossip ? I am afraid I have nothing very 
lively in hand ; but I take what comes upper- 
most. I am to dine to-night at Sir Frederick 
Pollock's, to meet one or two of the (more genteel) 
members of the Comedie Franaise, who are here 
just now, playing with immense success and 
supplying the London world with that invaluable 
boon, a topic. I mean the whole Comedie is here 
en masse for six weeks. I have been to see them 
two or three times and I find their artistic perfec- 
tion gives one an immense lift out of British air. 
I took with me one night Mrs. Kemble, who is a 
great friend of mine and to my sense one of the 
most interesting and delightful of women. I 
have a sort of notion you don't like her ; but you 



A ET . 36 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 71 

would if you knew her better. She is to my mind 
the first woman in London, and is moreover one 
of the consolations of my life. Another night 
I had with me a person whom it would divert 
you to know a certain Mrs. Greville (a cousin, 
by marriage, of the Greville Papers :) the queerest 
creature living, but a mixture of the ridiculous 
and the amiable in which the amiable preponder- 
ates. She is crazy, stage-struck, scatter-brained, 
what the French call extravagante ; but I can't 
praise her better than by saying that though she is 
on the whole the greatest fool I have ever known, 
I like her very much and get on with her most 
easily. ... I am just finishing a short novel which 
will appear presently in six numbers of Scribner. 
This is to say please don't read it in that puerile 
periodical (where its appearance is due to what 
you will be glad to hear large pecuniary induce- 
ments,) but wait till it comes out as a book. It 
is worth being read in that shape. I have asked 
you no questions yet I have finished my letter. 
Let my blessing, my tender good wishes and 
affectionate assurances of every kind stand in- 
stead of them. Divide these with Charles, with 
your mother, with the children, and believe me, 
dear Grace, always very faithfully yours, 

H. JAMES jr. 

To W. D. Howells. 

H. J.'s forthcoming story in the Cornhill was Washington 
Square. 

3 Bolton Street, W. 

Jan. 31st [1880]. 
My dear Howells, 

Your letter of Jan. 19th and its enclosure 
(your review of my Hawthorne) came to me last 
night, and I must thank you without delay for 
each of them. 



72 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isso 

Your review of my book is very handsome and 
friendly and commands my liveliest gratitude. 
Of course your graceful strictures seem to your- 
self more valid than they do to me. The little 
book was a tolerably deliberate and meditated 
performance, and I should be prepared to do 
battle for most of the convictions expressed. It 
is quite true I use the word provincial too many 
times I hated myself for't, even while I did it 
(just as I overdo the epithet "dusky.") But I 
don't at all agree with you in thinking that " if 
it is not provincial for an Englishman to be 
English, a Frenchman French, etc., so it is not 
provincial for an American to be American." 
So it is not provincial for a Russian, an Australian, 
a Portuguese, a Dane, a Laplander, to savour of 
their respective countries : that would be where 
the argument would land you. I think it is 
extremely provincial for a Russian to be very 
Russian, a Portuguese very Portuguese ; for the 
simple reason that certain national types are 
essentially and intrinsically provincial. I sym- 
pathize even less with your protest against the 
idea that it takes an old civilization to set a 
novelist in motion a proposition that seems to 
me so true as to be a truism. It is on manners, 
customs, usages, habits, forms, upon all these 
things matured and established, that a novelist 
lives they are the very stuff his work is made of ; 
and in saying that in the absence of those " dreary 
and worn-out paraphernalia " which I enumerate 
as being wanting in American society, " we have 
simply the whole of human life left," you beg (to 
my sense) the question. I should say we had 
just so much less of it as these same " parapher- 
nalia " represent, and I think they represent an 
enormous quantity of it. I shall feel refuted 
only when we have produced (setting the present 
high company yourself and me for obvious 



A ET . 36 TO W. D. HOWELLS 73 

reasons apart) a gentleman who strikes me as a 
novelist as belonging to the company of Balzac 
and Thackeray. Of course, in the absence of this 
godsend, it is but a harmless amusement that we 
should reason about it, and maintain that if right 
were right he should already be here. I will freely 
admit that such a genius will get on only by 
agreeing with your view of the case to do some- 
thing great he must feel as you feel about it. But 
then I doubt whether such a genius a man of 
the faculty of Balzac and Thackeray could 
agree with you ! When he does I will lie flat on 
my stomach and do him homage in the very 
centre of the contributor's club, or on the thres- 
hold of the magazine, or in any public place you 
may appoint ! But I didn't mean to wrangle with 
you I meant only to thank you and to express 
my sense of how happily you turn those things. 
I am greatly amused at your picture of the con- 
tributing blood- hounds whom you are holding in 
check. I wish immensely that you would let 
them fly at me though there is no reason, 
certainly, that the decent public should be be- 
spattered, periodically, with my gore. However 
my tender (or rather my very tough) flesh is 
prescient already of the Higginsonian fangs. 
Happy man, to be going, like that, to see your 
plays acted. It is a sensation I am dying (though 
not as yet trying) to cultivate. What a tre- 
mendous quantity of work you must get through 
in these years ! I am impatient for the next 
Atlantic. What is your Cornhill novel about ? 
I am to precede it with a poorish story in three 
numbers a tale purely American, the writing 
of which made me feel acutely the want of the 
" paraphernalia." I must add, however (to re- 
turn for a moment to this), that I applaud and 
esteem you highly for not feeling it ; i.e. the 
want. You are certainly right magnificently and 



74 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isso 

heroically right to do so, and on the day you make 
your readers I mean the readers who know and 
appreciate the paraphernalia do the same, you 
will be the American Balzac. That's a great 
mission go in for it ! Wherever you go, receive, 
and distribute among your wife and children, the 
blessing of yours ever, 

H. JAMES jr. 

To Charles Eliot Norton. 

3 Bolton Street, W. 

Nov. 13th, 1880. 
My dear Charles, 

... I wish you could take a good holiday 
and spend it in these countries. I have got to 
feel like such an old European that I could almost 
pretend to help to do you the honours. I am at 
least now a thoroughly naturalised Londoner 
a cockney " convaincu." I am attached to 
London in spite of the long list of reasons why I 
should not be ; I think it on the whole the best 
point of view in the world. There are times when 
the fog, the smoke, the universal uncleanness, 
the combined unwieldiness and flatness of much 
of the social life these and many other matters 
overwhelm the spirit and fill it with a yearning 
for other climes ; but nevertheless one reverts, 
one sticks, one abides, one even cherishes ! 
Considering that I lose all patience with the 
English about fifteen times a day, and vow that 
I renounce them for ever, I get on with them 
beautifully and love them well. Our dear Vasari, 
I fear, couldn't have made much of them, and 
they would have been improved by a slight 
infusion of the Florentine spirit ; but for all that 
they are, for me, the great race even at this hour 
of their possible decline. Taking them altogether 
they are more complete than other folk, more 



A ET . 37 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 75 

largely nourished, deeper, denser, stronger. I 
think it takes more to make an Englishman, on 
the whole, than to make anyone else and I say 
this with a consciousness of all that often seems 
to me to have been left out of their composition. 
But the question is interminable, and idle into 
the bargain. I am passing a quiet autumn. 
London has not yet waked up from the stagna- 
tion that belongs to this period. The only inci- 
dent of consequence that has lately occurred to 
me was my dining a few days since at the Guild- 
hall, at the big scrambling banquet which the 
Lord Mayor gives on the 9th November to the 
Cabinet, foreign ministers, etc. It was uncom- 
fortable but amusing you have probably done 
it yourself. I met Lowell there, whom I see, 
besides, with tolerable frequency. He is just 
back from a visit to Scotland which he appears 
to have enjoyed, including a speech-making at 
Edinburgh. He gets on here, I think, very 
smoothly and happily ; for though he is critical 
in the gross, he is not in the detail, and takes 
things with a sort of boyish simplicity. He is 
universally liked and appreciated, his talk en- 
joyed (as well it may be, after some of their own ! ) 
and his poor long-suffering wife is doing very well. 
I therefore hope he will be left undisturbed by 
Garfield to enjoy the fruition of the long period 
of discomfort he has passed through. It will be 
in the highest degree indecent to remove him ; 
though I wish he had a pair of secretaries that 
ministered a little more to the idea of American 
brilliancy. Lowell has to do that quite by him- 
self. . . . 

Believe me always faithfully yours, 

H. JAMES jr. 



76 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isso 



To his Mother. 

Mentmore, Leighton Buzzard, 
November 28th, 1880. 

Dearest mammy, 

. . . This is a pleasant Sunday, and I have 
been spending it (from yesterday evening) in a 
very pleasant place. ' Pleasant ' is indeed rather 
an odd term to apply to this gorgeous residence, 
and the manner of life which prevails in it ; but 
it is that as well as other things beside. Lady 
Rosebery (it is her enviable dwelling) asked me 
down here a week ago, and I stop till tomorrow 
a.m. There are several people here, but no one 
very important, save John Bright and Lord 
Northbrook, the last Liberal Viceroy of India. 
Millais, the painter, has been here for a part of the 
day, and I took a walk [with him] this afternoon 
back from the stables, where we had been to see 
three winners of the Derby trotted out in succes- 
sion. This will give you an idea of the scale of 
Mentmore, where everything is magnificent. The 
house is a huge modern palace, filled with wonder- 
ful objects accumulated by the late Sir Meyer de 
Rothschild, Lady R.'s father. All of them are 
precious and many are exquisite, and their general 
Rothschildish splendour is only equalled by their 
profusion. . . . 

I have spent a good part of the time in listening 
to the conversation of John Bright, whom, 
though I constantly see him at the Reform Club, 
I had never met before. He has the repute of 
being often " grumpy " ; but on this occasion 
he has been in extremely good form and has 
discoursed uninterruptedly and pleasantly. He 
gives one an impression of sturdy, honest, vigorous, 
English middle-class liberalism, accompanied by 
a certain infusion of genius, which helps one to 



A ET . 37 TO HIS MOTHER 77 

understand how his name has become the great 
rallying-point of that sentiment. He reminds 
me a good deal of a superior New Englander 
with a fatter, damper nature, however, than 
theirs. . . . They are at afternoon tea downstairs 
in a vast, gorgeous hall, where an upper gallery 
looks down like the colonnade in Paul Veronese's 
pictures, and the chairs are all golden thrones, 
belonging to ancient Doges of Venice. I have 
retired from the glittering scene, to meditate by 
my bedroom fire on the fleeting 'character of 
earthly possessions, and to commune with my 
mammy, until a supreme being in the shape of a 
dumb footman arrives, to ventilate my shirt and 
turn my stockings inside out (the beautiful red 
ones imparted by Alice which he must admire 
so much, though he doesn't venture to show it,) 
preparatory to my dressing for dinner. To- 
morrow I return to London and to my personal 
occupation, always doubly valued after 48 hours 
passed among ces gens-ci, whose chief effect upon 
me is to sharpen my desire to distinguish myself 
by personal achievement, of however limited a 
character. It is the only answer one can make 
to their atrocious good fortune. Lord Rosebery, 
however, with youth, cleverness, a delightful 
face, a happy character, a Rothschild wife of 
numberless millions to distinguish and demoralize 
him, wears them with such tact and bonhomie that 
you almost forgive him. He is extremely nice 
with Bright, draws him out, defers to him etc., 
with a delicacy rare in an Englishman. But, 
after all, there is much to say more than can 
be said in a letter about one's relations with 
these people. You may be interested, by the 
way, to know that Lord R. said this morning at 
lunch that his ideal of the happy life was that of 
Cambridge, Mass., " living like Longfellow." You 
may imagine that at this the company looked 



78 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isso 

awfully vague, and I thought of proposing to him 
to exchange Mentmore for 20 Quincy Street. 

I have little other personal news than this, which 
I have given you in some detail, for entertain- 
ment's sake. ... I embrace you, dearest mother, 
and also your two companions. 

Ever your fondest 

H. JAMES jr. 



To Mrs. Fanny Kemble. 

Hotel de la Vffle, Milan. 

March 24th, '81. 
My dear Mrs Kemble, 

Your good letter of nearly four weeks ago 
lies before me where it has been lying for some 
days past making me think of you so much that 
I ended by feeling as if I had answered it. On 
reflection I see that I haven't, however that 
is, not in any way that you will appreciate. 
Shall you appreciate a letter from Milan on a day 
blustering and hateful as any you yourself can 
lately have been visited with? I have been 
spending the last eight days at this place, but I 
take myself off for southern parts to-morrow ; 
so that by waiting a little I might have sent you 
a little more of the genuine breath of Italy. But 
I can do that and I shall do it at any rate, and 
meanwhile let my Milanese news go for what it 
is worth. You see I travel very deliberately, as 
I started for Rome six weeks ago, and I have 
only got thus far. My slowness has had various 
causes ; among others my not being in a particular 
hurry to join the little nest of my compatriots 
(and yours) who cluster about the Piazza di 
Spagna. I have enjoyed the independence of 
lingering in places where I had no visits to pay 
and this indeed has been the only charm of Milan, 
which has seemed prosaic and winterish, as if it 



. 37 TO MRS. FANNY KEMBLE 79 

were on the wrong side of the Alps. I have written 
a good deal (not letters), and seen that moulder- 
ing old fresco of Leonardo, which is so magni- 
ficent in its ruin, and the lovely young Raphael 
in the Brera (the Sposalizio) which is still so fresh 
and juvenile, and Lucrezia Borgia's straw-coloured 
lock of hair at the Ambrosian Library, and several 
other small and great curiosities. I have kept 
pretty well out of the Cathedral, as the chill of 
Dante's frozen circle abides within it, and I have 
had a sore throat ever since I left soft San Remo. 
On the other hand I have also been to the Scala, 
which is a mighty theatre, and where I heard Der 
Freyschiitz done a Pitalienne, and sat through 
about an hour and three quarters of a ballet 
which was to last three. The Italians, truly, are 
eternal children. They paid infinitely more atten- 
tion to the ballet than to the opera, and followed 
with breathless attention, and an air of the most 
serious credulity, the interminable adventures 
of a danseuse who went through every possible 
alternation of human experience on the points of 
her toes. The more I see of them the more struck 
I am with their having no sense of the ridiculous. 
It must have been at Marseilles, I think, that I 
wrote you before ; so that there is an hiatus in 
my biography to fill up. I went from Marseilles 
to Nice, which I found more than usually detest- 
able, and pervaded, to an intolerable pitch, with 
a bad French carnival, which set me on the road 
again till I reached San Remo, which you may 
know, and which if you don't you ought to. I 
spent more than a fortnight there, among the 
olives and the oranges, between a big yellow sun 
and a bright blue sea. The walks and drives 
are lovely, and in the course of one of them (a 
drive) I called upon our friends the George 
Howards, who have been wintering at Bordighera, 
a few miles away. But he was away in England 



80 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

getting himself elected to Parliament (you may 
have heard that he has just been returned for 
East Cumberland,) and she was away with him, 
helping him. The idea of leaving the oranges 
and olives for that ! I saw, however, a most 
delightful little maid, their eldest daughter, of 
about 15, who had a mixture of shyness and 
frankness, the softness of the papa and the 
decision of the mother, with which I quite fell 
in love. I didn't fall in love with Mrs William 
Morris, the strange, pale, livid, gaunt, silent, and 
yet in a manner graceful and picturesque, wife 
of the poet and paper-maker, who is spending 
the winter with the Howards ; though doubtless 
she too has her merits. She has, for instance, 
wonderful aesthetic hair. From San Remo I 
came along the rest of the coast to Genoa, not by 
carriage however, as I might have done, for I was 
rather afraid of three days " on end " of my own 
society : that is, not on end, but sitting down. 
When I am tired of myself in common situations 
I can get up and walk away ; so, in a word, I 
came in the train, and the train came in a tunnel 
for it was almost all one for five or six hours. 
I have been going to Venice but it is so cold and 
blustering that I think to-morrow, when I depart 
from this place, the idea of reaching the southern- 
most point will get the better of me, and I shall 
make straight for Rome. I will write you from 
there where I first beheld you : that is, famil- 
iarly (if I may be allowed the expression). 
Enough meanwhile about myself, my intentions 
and delays : let me hear, or at least let me ask, 
about your own circumstances and propensities. 
. . . You must have felt spattered, like all the world, 
with the blood of the poor Russian Czar ! Aren't 
you glad you are not an Empress ? But you are. 
God save your Majesty ! Mrs Greville sent me 
Swinburne's complicated dirge upon her poor 



A ET . 37 TO MRS. FANNY KEMBLE 81 

simple mother, and I thought it wanting in all 
the qualities that one liked in Mrs T. I should 
like very much to send a tender message to Mrs 
Gordon : indefinite but very tender ! To you 
I am both tender and definite (save when I cross). 
Ever very faithfully yours, 

H. JAMES jr. 



Ill 

THE MIDDLE YEARS 

(1882-1888) 

AFTER his long absence Henry James had a few 
crowded months of American impressions, during 
the winter of 1881-2, in Boston, New York, and 
Washington. He was as sociable as usual, where- 
ever he went, and he used to the full the oppor- 
tunity of reviving old memories and creating new. 
It will be seen that he confesses to having enjoyed 
" a certain success " ; since the publication of 
Daisy Miller, three years before, he had known 
what it was to be a well-known author in London, 
but it was a fresh sensation on his native ground. 
Unhappily this interesting episode was cut short 
by the first great sorrow that had fallen upon his 
house. His mother died suddenly, in February 
1882. To the end of his life Henry James was 
to remember this loss as the deepest stroke he had 
ever received ; though she appears but little in 
his reminiscences there is no doubt that her 
presence, her completely selfless devotion to her 
husband and children, had been the greatest of 
all facts in their lives. Her care, her pride in 
them, the surrender of her whole nature and will 
to her love for them, had accompanied and sup- 
ported all their doings ; her husband, during the 
long years in which he poured out the strange 

82 



1882 88 THE MIDDLE YEARS 83 

fruits of his thought to a steadily indifferent 
world, had rested unreservedly on her true and 
gentle companionship. Her second son's letters 
to her from Europe will already have shewn the 
easy and delightful relation that existed between 
her and her children ; they confided in her and 
leaned on her and rallied her, with an intimacy 
deepened by the almost unbroken union of the 
whole household throughout their youth. Henry 
James stayed by his father for some months after 
her death, and would have stayed longer ; but 
his father was anxious that he should return to 
his own work and life. He sailed for England 
accordingly in May 1882. 

A summer in London was followed by the 
autumn excursion to Touraine and Provence 
portrayed in A Little Tour in France. At Tours 
he had the company of Mrs. Fanny Kemble and 
her daughter ; and as usual he spent a few 
weeks in Paris before going home. He arrived 
in London in December to receive almost at once 
a message announcing that his father was seriously 
ill. He started immediately for America, but it 
was already too late ; his father had died, so they 
felt, from mere cessation of the will to live bereft 
of their mother. " Nothing he had enabled 
himself to make perfectly sure was in the least 
worth while without her ; this attested, he passed 
away or went out, with entire simplicity, prompt- 
ness and ease, for the definite reason that his 
support had failed." So Henry James wrote, 
thirty years later, in the Notes of a Son and Brother, 
and his letters of the time confirm the impression. 
" There passes away with him," he says in one of 
them, " a certain sense of inspiration and protec- 
tion which had, I think, accompanied each of us 
even to middle life." Thenceforward it was to 
his elder brother that Henry James always looked 
for something of the same kind of support, and 



84 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1882-88 

many letters will shew how close the bond re- 
mained. In the mere prose of business William 
took complete charge of his brother's share in the 
family affairs, for which the younger never 
claimed the smallest aptitude. But during the 
months that followed their father's death William 
was in Europe, and it fell to Henry to be occupied 
with the details of their property, for perhaps the 
first and last time. The patrimony consisted 
mainly of certain houses in the town of Syracuse, 
N.Y., where their grandfather had had interests, 
and where " James Street " is still one of the 
principal thoroughfares. Henry was kept in 
America by the necessity of taking part in some 
rather complicated dispositions arising out of 
the terms of their father's will ; and also by his 
care for the future of his sister Alice, the youngest 
of the family. Her health was very insecure, 
and he proposed that she should join him in 
Europe ; but for the present she preferred to 
settle in Boston, where he helped her to instal 
herself. He did not finally return to London 
until the following August, 1883. 

This was his last visit to America for more than 
twenty years. He now subsided once more into the 
life of London, with its incessant round of socia- 
bility and its equally incessant accompaniment 
of creative work. Gradually his tone in regard 
to his English setting is modified and deepened. 
In the correspondence of these middle years it is 
no longer the interested but slightly rebellious 
immigrant who speaks ; it is rather the old- 
established colonist, now identified with his sur- 
roundings, a sharer in the general fortunes and 
responsibilities of the place. If he still regards 
himself as an observer from without and is still 
capable, as he once says, of " raging against 
British density in hours of irritation and disgust," 
it is none the less noticeable that English 



188288 THE MIDDLE YEARS 85 

difficulties, English wars and politics and social 
troubles, of all of which these years were very full, 
begin to aifect him as matters that concern his 
pride and solicitude for the country. There 
mingles with his exasperation an ardent desire 
that the English race may continue to stand high 
in the world, in spite of the many voices prophesy- 
ing decadence and disaster. He writes as one 
who now has a stake in an old and honourable 
institution, and who feels a personal interest in 
its well-being and its good fame. Not indeed 
that he took, or ever for a moment wished to take, 
any share in the common life of the place but that 
of the most private fellowship ; he resolutely 
avoided the least appearance of publicity, always 
refused to be drawn into popular functions, 
organisations, associations of any sort, and clung 
more and more, in the midst of all distractions, 
to the secrecy and seclusion of his work. And 
for that inner life these years were a very impor- 
tant turning-point. He now reached a period of 
his development when an immensely enlarged world 
of art seemed to open before him ; and at the 
same time he made the discovery one that had 
a deep and special effect upon him that he was 
not the kind of writer who is rewarded with a big 
audience. Both these matters are heard of in 
the letters of this time, but their consequences 
do not appear fully until somewhat later. They 
were various and far-reaching, and some of them 
can hardly be called fortunate. 

Meanwhile the outward incidents of his life were 
as few and simple as ever. The stream of social 
engagements remained indeed at its height, not- 
withstanding his protests of withdrawal from the 
world ; but otherwise there is little to chronicle 
but the publication of his books and his yearly 
journeys abroad. Early in 1884 he spent some 
weeks in Paris, where the death of Turgenev had 



86 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1 882-88 

made a gap that he greatly felt. For the rest of 
the year he was'occupied in writing The Bostonians, 
and went no further from London than to carry 
his manuscript into lodgings at Dover for August 
and September. A little later his sister Alice 
arrived from America, to make the experiment 
of life in Europe for the benefit of her now con- 
firmed ill-health. Her presence near at hand, 
for the few years that remained to her, was a 
source of much pleasure, and also of constant 
anxiety, to her brother. She was a woman of 
rare talent and of strongly marked character ; 
but the life of an invalid, which proved to be all 
she was capable of, prevented her from using her 
opportunities and from taking the place that would 
have been open to her. She lived in great 
retirement, at first in London, afterwards chiefly 
at Bournemouth and Leamington. Henry James 
was unwearied in his care for her ; he visited 
her constantly, and never without keen delight 
in her company and her vigorous talk. His 
brotherly attention had yet a further reward in 
the summer of 1885, when she was at Bourne- 
mouth. To be near her he spent several weeks 
there, and was able at the same time to cultivate 
the society of another imprisoned invalid, close 
by, with whom he had already had some acquain- 
tance. This was Robert Louis Stevenson, and 
the intimacy that thus arose very fortunately 
still survives in many admirable letters of each 
to the other. Stevenson's side of the corre- 
spondence, edited by Sir Sidney Colvin, is well 
known, and Henry James's can now be added to 
it ; there could be no more illuminating inter- 
change between two fine artists, so unlike in 
everything but their common passion. 

By this time The Bostonians was beginning to 
appear in an American magazine, and a little 
later, again at Dover, The Princess Casamassima 



1882 88 THE MIDDLE YEARS 87 

was finished. For two years Henry James now 
wrote nothing but shorter pieces (among them 
The Aspern Papers, The Lesson of the Master, 
The Reverberator,) with growing disconcertment 
as he found how tardily they seemed to appeal to 
editors, American or English. In the autumn 
of 1885 he spent his accustomed month in Paris, 
after which he scarcely stirred from London for 
another year. Early in 1886 he at last accom- 
plished a move from his Bolton Street lodging, 
never a very cheerful or convenient abode, to a 
flat in Kensington (13 De Vere Mansions, presently 
known as 34 De Vere Gardens), close to the palace 
and the park, where he had much more agreeable 
conditions of light and air and quiet. He was 
planning, however, for another long absence in 
Italy, away from the interruptions of London, 
and this he secured during the first seven months 
of 1887. For most of the time he was at Florence, 
where he took rooms in a villa overhanging the 
view from Bellosguardo ; and he paid two lengthy 
visits to Venice, staying first with Mrs. Bronson, 
in the apartment so often occupied by Browning, 
and later with Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Curtis in the 
splendid old Palazzo Barbaro, where years after- 
wards he placed the exquisite and stricken heroine 
of The Wings of the Dove, for the climax of her 
story. He returned to England, late in the 
summer, to settle down to the writing of The 
Tragic Muse the first time, as he mentions, that 
he had attacked a purely English subject on a 
large scale. " I am getting to know English life 
better than American," he writes in September 
1888, when he was still working upon the book, 
"... and to understand the English character, 
or at least the mind, as well as if I had invented 
it which indeed," he adds lightly, " I think I 
could have done without any very extraordinary 
expenditure of ingenuity." The end of the 



88 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 188288 

summer of 1888 was spent in an hotel at Torquay, 
which became one of his favourite retreats ; and 
later in the autumn he was for a short while 
abroad, at Geneva and Paris, with a flying dip 
into Northern Italy. The letter to his brother, 
written from Geneva, with which this section 
closes, lucidly sums up the conclusions he had by 
now drawn from the experience of a dozen years 
of England. At the age of forty-five he could 
feel that he had exhausted the study of the old 
international distinctions, English and American, 
that had engaged him for so long. He was indeed 
to return to them again, later on, and to devote 
to them the final elaboration of his art ; but that 
lay far ahead, and now for many years he faced 
in other directions. 

A vivid glimpse of Henry James at this time 
is given in the following note of reminiscence, 
kindly written for this page by Mr. Edmund 
Gosse : 

In the late summer of 1886 an experience, more often 
imagined than enjoyed, actually took place in the shape of 
a party of friends independently dispersed in the hotel or 
in lodgings through the Worcestershire village of Broad- 
way, but with the home of Frank Millet, the American 
painter, as their centre. Edwin Abbey, John S. Sargent, 
Alfred Parsons, Fred Barnard and I, and others, lived 
through five bright weeks of perfect weather, in boisterous 
intimacy. Early in September Henry James joined us 
for a short visit. The Millets possessed, on their domain, a 
medieval ruin, a small ecclesiastical edifice, which was 
very roughly repaired so as to make a kind of refuge for 
us, and there, in the mornings, Henry James and I would 
write, while Abbey and Millet painted on the floor below, 
and Sargent and Parsons tilted their easels just outside. 
We were all within shouting distance, and not much 
serious work was done, for we were in towering spirits and 
everything was food for laughter. Henry James was the 
only sedate one of us all benign, indulgent, but grave, 
and not often unbending beyond a genial chuckle. We all 
treated him with some involuntary respect, though he 



1882-88 THE MIDDLE YEARS 89 

asked for none. It is remembered with what affability he 
wore a garland of flowers at a birthday feast, and even, 
nobly descending, took part one night in a cake-walk. 
But mostly, though not much our senior, he was serious, 
mildly avuncular, but very happy and unupbraiding. 

In those days Henry James wore a beard of vague 
darkish brown, matching his hair, which had not yet with- 
drawn from his temples, and these bushy ornaments had 
the effect of making him in a sense shadowy. Almost 
every afternoon he took a walk with me, rarely with 
Sargent, never with the sedentary rest ; these walks were 
long in time but not in distance, for Henry was inclined to 
saunter. He had not wholly recovered from that weak- 
ness of the muscles of his back which had so long troubled 
him, and I suppose that this was the cause of a curious 
stiffness in his progress, which proceeded rather slowly. 
He had certain preferences, in particular for the level road 
through the green landscape to the ancient grey village of 
Aston Somerville. He always made the same remark, as if 
he had never noticed it before, that Aston was " so Italian, 
so Tuscan." 

His talk, which flowed best with one of us alone, was 
enchanting ; with me largely it concerned the craft of 
letters. I remember little definitely, but recall how most 
of us, with the ladies, spent one long rollicking day in 
rowing down the winding Avon from Evesham to Pershore. 
There was much " singing in the English boat," asMarvell 
says, and Edwin Abbey " obliged " profusely on the banjo. 
Henry James I can still see sitting like a beneficent deity, 
a sort of bearded Buddha, at the prow, manifestly a little 
afraid that some of us would tumble into the river. 



To Miss Henrietta Reubell. 

Metropolitan Club, 
Washington, B.C. 

Jan. 9th, 1882. 
My dear Miss Reubell, 

I have never yet thanked you for the 
amiable note in which you kindly invited me to 
write to you from the Americas ; and the best 
way I can do so now is to simply respond to your 
invitation. I am in the Americas indeed, and 
behold I write. These countries are extremely 
pleasant, and I recommend you to come and see 
them au plus tot. You would have a great career 
here, and would return if you should return 
at all with a multitude of scalps at your slim 
girdle. There is a great demand for brilliant 
women, and I can promise you that you would 
be intimately appreciated. I shall return about 
the first of May but without any blond scalps, 
though with a great many happy impressions. 
Though I should perhaps not linger upon the 
point myself, I believe I have had a certain 
success. As for ces gens-ci, they have had great 
success with me, and have been delightfully 
genial and hospitable. It is here that people 
treat you well ; venez-y voir. You have had 
a great many things, I know ; but you have 
not had a winter in the Americas. The people 
are extremely nice and humane. I didn't care 
for it much at first but it improves immensely 
on acquaintance, and after you have got the right 

90 



AET. 38 TO MISS HENRIETTA REUBELL 91 

point of view and diapason it is a wonderfully 
entertaining and amusing country. The skies 
are as blue as the blotting paper (as yet unspotted) 
on which this scrawl reposes, and the sunshine, 
which is deliciously warm, has always an air de 
fete. I have seen multitudes of people, and no 
one has been disagreeable. That is different from 
your pretentious Old World. Of Washington 
I can speak as yet but little, having come but 
four days ago ; but it is like nothing else, in 
the old world or the new. Enormous spaces, 
hundreds of miles of asphalte, a charming climate 
and the most entertaining society in America. 
I spent a month in Boston and another in New 
York, and have paid three or four visits in the 
country. All this was very jolly, and it is pleasant 
to be in one's native land, where one is someone 
and something. If I were to abide by my vanity 
only I should never return to that Europe which 
ignores me. Unfortunately I love my Europe 
better than my vanity, and I appreciate you, if 
I may say so, better than either ! Therefore I 
shall return about the month of May. I am 
thinking tremendously about writing to Mrs. 
Boit kindly tell her so. My very friendly regards 
to your dear Mother, and your Brother. 
A word to Cambridge, Mass, (my father's) will 
always reach me. It would be very charming of 
you to address one to yours very faithfully, 

H. JAMES. 



To Charles Eliot Norton. 

20 Quincy Street, 

Cambridge, Mass. 

Feb. 7th, 1882. 
My dear Charles, 

Only a word to thank you very heartily 
for your little note of friendship, and to send 



92 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1882 

you a grateful message, as well, from my father 
and sister. My mother's death is the greatest 
change that could befall us, but our lives are s.o 
full of her still that we scarcely yet seem to have 
lost her. The long beneficence of her own life 
remains and survives. 

I shall see you after your return to Shady 
Hill, as I am to be for a good while in these 
regions. I wish to remain near my father, who 
is infirm and rather tottering ; and I shall settle 
myself in Boston for the next four or five months. 
In other words I shall be constantly in Cambridge 
and will often look in at you. I hope you have 
enjoyed your pilgrimage. 

Ever faithfully yours, 

H. JAMES jr. 

To Mrs. John L. Gardner. 

The play referred to in this letter is doubtless the 
dramatic version of Daisy Miller ; it remained unacted, 
but was published in America in 1883. 

3 Bolton St., Piccadilly. 

June 5th [1882]. 
My dear Mrs. Gardner, 

A little greeting across the sea ! I meant 
to send it as soon as I touched the shore ; but the 
huge grey mass of London has interposed. I 
experience the need of proving to you that I 
missed seeing you before I left America though 
I tried one day the one before I quitted Boston ; 
but you were still in New York, contributing the 
harmony of your presence and the melodies 
of your toilet, to the din of Wagnerian fiddles 
and the crash of Teutonic cymbals. You must 
have passed me in the train that last Saturday ; 
but you have never done anything but pass me 
and depasser me ; so it doesn't so much matter. 
That final interview that supreme farewell 



AET. 39 TO MRS. L. GARDNER 93 

will however always be one of the most fascinat- 
ing incidents of life the incidents that didn't 
occur, and leave me to muse on what they might 
have done for us. I think with extraordinary 
tenderness of those two pretty little evenings 
when I read you my play. They make a charm- 
ing picture a perfect picture in my mind, and 
the memory of them appeals to all that is most 
rqffine in my constitution. Drop a tear a 
diminutive tear (as your tears must be small 
but beautifully-shaped pearls) upon the fact that 
my drama is not after all to be brought out in 
New York (at least for the present.) ... It is 
possible it may see the light here. I am to read it 
to the people of the St. James's Theatre next week. 
Please don't speak of this. London seems big 
and black and horrible and delightful Boston 
seems only the last named. You indeed could 
make it horrible for me if you chose, and you 
could also make it big ; but I doubt if you could 
make it black. It would be a fair and glittering 
horror, suggestive of icicles and white fur. I 
wonder if you are capable of writing me three 
words ? Let one of them tell me you are well. 
The second what you please ! The third that 
you sometimes bestow a friendly thought upon 
yours very faithfully, 

H. JAMES jr. 



To Miss Grace Norton. 

Hotel du Midi, 
Toulouse. 

Oct. 17th [1882]. 
My dear Grace, 

You shall have a letter this morning, what- 
ever happens ! I am waiting for the train to 
Carcassonne, and you will perhaps ask yourself 



94 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1882 

why you are thus sandwiched between these 
two mouldy antiquities. It is precisely because 
they are mouldy that I invoke your genial 
presence. Toulouse is dreary and not interest- 
ing, and I am afraid that Carcassonne will 
answer to the same description I heard given a 
couple of weeks ago by an English lady in 
Touraine, of the charming Chateau d'Amboise : 
" rather curious, you know, but very, very 
dirty." Therefore my spirit turns for comfort 
to what I have known best in life. I got your 
last excellent letter an abominable number of 
weeks ago ; and I hereby propose, as a rule of 
our future correspondence, that I be graciously 
absolved from ever specifying the time that has 
elapsed since the arrival of the letter I am supposed 
to be answering. This custom will ease me off 
immensely. Your last, however, is not so remote 
but that the scolding you gave me for sending 
your previous letter to Mrs. Kemble is fearfully 
fresh in my mind. My dear Grace, I regret 
extremely having irritated you ; but I would 
fain wrestle with you on this subject. I think 
you have a false code about the showing of 
letters and in calling it a breach of confidence 
you surely confound the limits of things. Of 
course there is always a particular discretion 
for the particular case ; but what are letters 
but talk, and what is the showing them but the 
repetition of talk ? The same rules that govern 
that of course govern the other ; but I don't 
see why they should be more stringent. It is 
indeed, I think, of the very essence of a good 
letter to be shown it is wasted if it is kept for 
one. Was not Mme. de Sevigne's last always 
handed about to a hundred people was not 
Horace Walpole's ? What was right for them 
is, it seems to me, right for you. However, I 
make this little protest simply for the theory's 



AET. 39 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 95 

sake, and promise you solemnly that in practice, 
in future, you shall be my own exclusive and 
peculiar Sevigne ! Yet I don't at all insist on 
being your exclusive Walpole ! I have indeed 
the sweet security of the conviction that you 
will never " want," as they say (you don't) in 
Cambridge, to exhibit my epistles. Only I give 
you full leave to read them aloud at your soirees ! 
Have your soirees recommenced, by the way ? 
Where are you, my dear Grace, and how are you ? 
The question about your whereabouts will per- 
haps make you smile, if anything in this letter 
can, as I make no doubt you are enjoying the 
gorgeous charm (I speak without irony) of a 
Cambridge October. For myself, as you see, 
I am " doing " the south of France for literary 
purposes, into which I won't pretend to enter, 
as they are not of a very elevated character. (I 
am trying to write some articles about these 
regions for an American " illustrated " Harper 
but I don't foresee, as yet, any very brilliant 
results.) I left England some five weeks ago, 
and after a few days in Paris came down into 
Touraine for the sake of the chateaux of the 
Loire. At the hotel at Tours, where I spent 12 
days, I had the advantage of the society of 
Mrs. Kemble, and her daughter Mrs. Wister, 
with the son of the latter. We made some 
excursions together that is, minus Mrs. K. (a 
large void,) who was too infirm to junket about, 
and then the ladies returned to Paris and I took 
my way further afield. Touraine is charming, 
Chenonceaux, Chambord, Blois, etc., very inter- 
esting, and that episode was on the whole a 
success enlivened too by my exciting company. 
But the rest of France (that is those parts I have 
been through) [is] rather disappointing, though 
I suppose when I recite my itinerary you will 
feel that I ought to have found a world of 



96 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1882 

picturesqueness I mean at Bourges, Le Mans, 
Angers, Nantes, La Rochelle, Poitiers, etc. The 
cathedral of Bourges is worth a long pilgrimage 
to see ; but for the rest France has preserved 
the physiognomy of the past much less than 
England and than Italy. Besides, when I come 
into the south, I don't console myself 'for not 
being in the latter country. I don't care for these 
people, and in fine I rather hate it. I return to 
Paris on November 1st, and spend a month 
there. Then I return to England for the winter. 
When I am in that country I want to get out of 
it, and when I am out of it I languish for its 
heavy air. England is just now in a rather 
" cocky " mood, and disposed to carry it high 
with her little Egyptian victories. It is such 
a satisfaction to me to see her again counting 
for something in Europe that I would give her 
carte blanche to go as far as she chooses or 
dares ; but at the same time I hope she won't 
exhibit a vulgar greed. It has a really dramatic 
interest for me to see how the great Gladstone 
will acquit himself of a situation in which all his 
high principles will be subjected to an extra- 
ordinary strain. He will be, I suspect, neither 
very lofty, nor very base, but will compromise. 
I don't suppose, however, you care much about 
these far-away matters. I hope, my dear Grace, 
that your life is taking more and more a possible 
shape that your summer has left you some 
pleasant memories, and your winter brings some 
cheerful hopes. I don't think I shall be so long 
again at any rate my letters are no proof of 
my sentiments by which I mean that my silence 
is no disproof ; for after all I wish to be believed 
when I tell you that I am most affectionately 
yours, 

HENRY JAMES jr. 



AET. 39 TO WILLIAM JAMES 97 



To William James. 

131 Mt. Vernon St., 
Boston. 

Dec. 26th, '82. 
My dear William 

You will already have heard the circum- 
stances under which I arrived at New York on 
Thursday 21st, at noon, after a very rapid and 
prosperous, but painful passage. Letters from 
Alice and Katherine L. were awaiting me at 
the dock, telling me that dear father was to be 
buried that morning. I reached Boston at 
11 that night ; there was so much delay in 
getting up-town. I found Bob at the station 
here. He had come on for the funeral only, and 
returned to Milwaukee the next morning. Alice, 
who was in bed, was very quiet and A. K. was 
perfect. They told me everything or at least 
they told me a great deal before we parted 
that night, and what they told me was deeply 
touching, and yet not at all literally painful. 
Father had been so tranquil, so painless, had 
died so easily and, as it were, deliberately, and 
there had been none not the least of that 
anguish and confusion which we imagined in 
London. . . . He simply, after the " improve- 
ment " of which we were written before I sailed, 
had a sudden relapse- a series of swoons after 
which he took to his bed not to rise again. He 
had no visible malady strange as it may seem. 
The " softening of the brain " was simply a 
gradual refusal of food, because he wished to 
die. There was no dementia except a sort of 
exaltation of his belief that he had entered into 
" the spiritual life." Nothing could persuade 
him to eat, and yet he never suffered, or gave 
the least sign of suffering, from inanition, All 



98 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1882 

this will seem strange and incredible to you, but 
told with all the details, as Aunt Kate has told it to 
me, it becomes real taking father as he was 
almost natural. He prayed and longed to die. 
He ebbed and faded away, though in spite of his 
strength becoming continually less, he was able 
to see people and talk. He wished to see as 
many people as he could, and he talked with 
them without effort. He saw F. Boott and 
talked much two or three days before he died. 
Alice says he said the most picturesque and 
humorous things. He knew I was coming and 
was glad, but not impatient. He was delighted 
when he was told that you would stay in my 
rooms in my absence, and seemed much interested 
in the idea. He had no belief apparently that 
he should live to see me, but was perfectly 
cheerful about it. He slept a great deal, and 
as A. K. says there was " so little of the sick- 
room " about him. He lay facing the windows, 
which he would never have darkened never 
pained by the light. . . . 27th a.m. Will send 
this now and write again tonight. All our wish 
here is that you should remain abroad the next 
six months. 

Ever your 

H. JAMES. 

To George du Maurier. 

The article on George du Maurier was that reprinted in 
Partial Portraits (1888). 

115 East 25th Street, 

New York. 
April 17th, 1883. 
My dear Du Maurier, 

I send you by this post the sheets of that 
little tribute to your genius which I spoke of 
to you so many months ago and which appears 



. 40 TO GEORGE DU MAURIER 99 

in the Century for May. The magazine is not 
yet out, or I would send you that, and the long 
delay makes my article, so slight in itself, rather 
an impotent conclusion. Let me hasten to 
assure you that the " London Society ", tacked 
to the title, is none of my doing, but that of the 
editors of the Magazine, who put in an urgent 
plea for it. Such as my poor remarks are, I hope 
you will find in them nothing disagreeable, but 
only the expression of an exceeding friendliness. 
May my blessing go with them and a multitude 
of good wishes ! 

I should have been to see you again long ago 
if I had not suddenly been called to America 
(by the death of my father) in December last. 
The autumn, before that, I spent altogether 
abroad, and have scarcely been in England since 
I bade you good-bye, after that very delightful 
walk and talk we had together last July an 
episode of which I have the happiest, tenderest 
memory. Romantic Hampstead seems very 
far away from East 25th St : though East 
25th St. has some good points. I have been 
spending the winter in Boston and am here only 
on a visit to a friend, and though I am " New 
Yorkais d'origine " I never return to this 
wonderful city without being entertained and 
impressed afresh. New York is full of types and 
figures and curious social idiosyncrasies, and I 
only wish we had some one here, to hold up the 
mirror, with a 15th part of your talent. It is 
altogether an extraordinary growing, swarming, 
glittering, pushing, chattering, good-natured, 
cosmopolitan place, and perhaps in some ways 
the best imitation of Paris that can be found 
(yet with a great originality of its own.) But 
I didn't mean to be so geographical ; I only 
meant to shake hands, and to remind myself again 
that if my dear old London life is interrupted, 



100 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

it isn't, heaven be praised, finished, and 
that therefore there is a use a delightful and 
superior use in ' keeping up " my relations. 
I am talking a good deal like Mrs. Ponsonby de 
Tomkyns, but when you reflect that you are not 
Sir Gorgius Midas, you will acquit me. I have 
a fair prospect of returning to England late in 
the summer, and that will be for a long day. I 
hope your winter has used you kindly and that 
Mrs. du Maurier is well, and also the other orna- 
ments of your home, including the Great St. 
Bernard. I greet them all most kindly and am 
ever very faithfully yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Miss Grace Norton. 

131 Mount Vernon St., Boston. 

July 28th [1883]. 
My dear Grace, 

Before the sufferings of others I am always 
utterly powerless, and your letter reveals such 
depths of suffering that I hardly know what to 
say to you. This indeed is not my last word- 
but it must be my first. You are not isolated, 
verily, in such states of feeling as this that is, 
in the sense that you appear to make all the 
misery of all mankind your own ; only I. have a 
terrible sense that you give all and receive nothing 
that there is no reciprocity in your sympathy 
that you have all the affliction of it and none 
of the returns. However I am determined not 
to speak to you except with the voice of stoicism. 
I don't know why we live the gift of life comes 
to us from I don't know what source or for what 
purpose ; but I believe we can go on living for 
the reason that (always of course up to a certain 
point) life is the most valuable thing we know 
anything about, and it is therefore presump- 



AET. 40 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 101 

tively a great mistake to surrender it while there 
is any yet left in the cup. In other words con- 
sciousness is an illimitable power, and though 
at times it may seem to be all consciousness of 
misery, yet in the way it propagates itself from 
wave to wave, so that we never cease to feel, 
and though at moments we appear to, try to, 
pray to, there is something that holds one in 
one's place, makes it a standpoint in the universe 
which it is probably good not to forsake. You 
are right in your consciousness that we are all 
echoes and reverberations of the same, and you 
are noble when your interest and pity as to 
everything that surrounds you, appears to have 
a sustaining and harmonizing power. Only don't, 
I beseech you, generalize too much in these 
sympathies and tendernesses remember that 
every life is a special problem which is not yours 
but another's, and content yourself with the 
terrible algebra of your own. Don't melt too 
much into the universe, but be as solid and dense 
and fixed as you can. We all live together, and 
those of us who love and know, live so most. 
We help each other even unconsciously, each 
in our own effort, we lighten the effort of others, 
we contribute to the sum of success, make 
it possible for others to live. Sorrow comes 
in great waves no one can know that better 
than you but it rolls over us, and though it 
may almost smother us it leaves us on the spot, 
and we know that if it is strong we are stronger, 
inasmuch as it passes and we remain. It wears 
us, uses us, but we wear it and use it in return ; 
and it is blind, whereas we after a manner see. 
My dear Grace, you are passing through a dark- 
ness in which I myself in my ignorance see 
nothing but that you have been made wretchedly 
ill by it ; but it is only a darkness, it is not an 
end, or the end. Don't think, don't feel, any 



102 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

more than you can help, don't conclude or 
decide don't do anything but wait. Every- 
thing will pass, and serenity and accepted mysteries 
and disillusionments, and the tenderness of a 
few good people, and new opportunities and 
ever so much of life, in a word, will remain. You 
will do all sorts of things yet, and I will help 
you. The only thing is not to melt in the mean- 
while. I insist upon the necessity of a sort of 
mechanical condensation so that however fast 
the horse may run away there will, when he 
pulls up, be a somewhat agitated but perfectly 
identical G. N. left in the saddle. Try not to 
be ill that is all ; for in that there is a failure. 
You are marked out for success, and you must 
not fail. You have my tenderest affection and 
all my confidence. Ever your faithful friend 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

Hotel de Hollande, Paris. 

Feb. 20th, '84. 
My dear William 

I owe you an answer to two letters 
especially to the one in which you announce 
to me the birth of your little Israelite. I bid 
him the most affectionate welcome into this 
world of care and I hope that by this time he 
has begun to get used to it. I am too delighted 
to hear of Alice's well-being, and trust it has now 
merged into complete recovery. Apropos of 
the Babe, allow me to express an earnest hope 
that you will give him some handsome and 
pictorial name (within discreet limits). Most 
of our names are rather colourless collez-lui 
dessus, therefore, a little patch of brightness 
and don't call him after any one give him a 
name quite to himself. And let it be only one. 



A ET . 40 TO WILLIAM JAMES 103 

... I have seen several times the gifted Sargent, 
whose work I admire exceedingly and who is 
a remarkably artistic nature and charming fellow. 
I have also spent an evening with A. Daudet 
and a morning at Auteuil with Ed. de Goncourt. 
Seeing these people does me a world of good, 
and this intellectual vivacity and raffinement 
make an English mind seem like a sort of glue- 
pot. But their ignorance, corruption and com- 
placency are strange, full strange. I wish I 
had time to give you more of my impressions 
of them. They are at any rate very interesting, 
and Daudet, who has a remarkable personal 
charm and is as beautiful as the day, was 
extremely nice to me. I saw also Zola at his 
house, and the whole group are of course intense 
pessimists. Daudet justified this to me (as re- 
gards himself) by the general sadness of life and 
his fear, for instance, whenever he comes in, 
that his wife and children may have died while 
he was out ! I hope you manage to keep free 
from this apprehension. ... I return to London 
on the 27th, to stick fast there till the summer. 
I embrace Alice and the little Jew and am ever 
your affectionate 

HENRY. 



To W. D. Howells. 

Paris. 

Feb. 21st, 1884. 
My dear Howells, 

Your letter of the 2d last gives me great 
pleasure. A frozen Atlantic seemed to stretch 
between us, and I had had no news of you to 
speak of save an allusion, in a late letter of T. B. A., 
to your having infant- disease in your house. 
You give me a good account of this, and I hope 
your tax is paid for this year at least. These 



104 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1884 

are not things to make a hardened bachelor mend 
his ways. Hardened as I am, however, I am 
not proof against being delighted to hear that 
my Barberina tale entertained you. I am not 
prepared even to resent the malignity of your 
remark that the last third is not the best. It 
isn't ; the [last] part is squeezed together and 
ecourte ! It is always the fault of my things 
that the head and trunk are. too big and the legs 
too short. I spread myself, always, at first, 
from a nervous fear that I shall not have enough 
of my peculiar tap to "go round." But I 
always (or generally) have, and therefore, at the 
end, have to fill one of the cups to overflowing. 
My tendency to this disproportion remains incor- 
rigible. I begin short tales as if they were to 
be long novels. Apropos of which, ask Osgood 
to show you also the sheets of another thing I 
lately sent him " A New England Winter." 
It is not very good on the contrary ; but it 
will perhaps seem to you to put into form a 
certain impression of Boston. What you tell 

me of the success of 's last novel sickens 

and almost paralyses me. It seems to me (the 
book) so contemptibly bad and ignoble that the 
idea of people reading it in such numbers makes 
one return upon one's self and ask what is the 
use of trying to write anything decent or serious 
for a public so absolutely idiotic. It must be 
totally wasted. . I would rather have produced 
the basest experiment in the " naturalism " 
that is being practised here than such a piece 
of sixpenny humbug. Work so shamelessly bad 
seems to me to dishonour the novelist's art to a 
degree that is absolutely not to be forgiven ; 
just as its success dishonours the people for whom 
one supposes one's self to write. Excuse my 
ferocities, which (more discreetly and philoso- 
phically) I think you must share ; and don't 



AET. 40 TO W. D. HOWELLS 105 

mention it, please, to any one, as it will be set 
down to green-eyed jealousy. 

I came to this place three weeks since on the 
principle that anything is quieter than London ; 
but I return to the British scramble in a few days. 
Paris speaks to me, always, for about such a time 
as this, with many voices'; but at the end of a 
month I have learned all it has to say. I have 
been seeing something of Daudet, Goncourt, 
and Zola ; and there is nothing more interesting 
to me now than the effort and experiment of 
this little group, with its truly infernal intel- 
ligence of art, form, manner its intense artistic 
life. They do the only kind of work, to-day, 
that I respect ; and in spite of their ferocious 
pessimism and their handling of unclean things, 
they are at least serious and honest. The floods 
of tepid soap and water which under the name 
of novels are being vomited forth in England, 
seem to me, by contrast, to do little honour to 
our race. I say this to you, because I regard 
you as the great American naturalist. I don't 
think you go far enough, and you are haunted 
with romantic phantoms and a tendency to 
factitious glosses ; but you are in the right path, 
and I wish you repeated triumphs there begin- 
ning with your Americo- Venetian though I 
slightly fear, from what you tell me, that he 
will have a certain " gloss." It isn't for me to 
reproach you with that, however, the said gloss 
being a constant defect of my characters ; they 
have too much of it too damnably much. But 
I am a failure ! comparatively. Read Zola's 
last thing : La Joie de Vivre. This title of 
course has a desperate irony : but the work is 
admirably solid and serious. . . . Addio stia 
bene. I wish you could send me anything you 
have in the way of advance-sheets. It is rather 
hard that as you are the only English novelist I 



106 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1884 

read (except Miss Woolson), I should not have 
more comfort with you. Give my love to 
Winnie : I am sure she will dance herself well. 
Why doesn't Mrs. Howells try it too ? 

Tout a vous, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To John Addington Symonds. 

(3 Bolton St., Piccadilly, W.) 



Feb. 22nd, 1884. 
My dear J. A. Symonds, 

Your good letter came to me just as I was 
leaving London (for a month in this place 
to return there in a few days,) and the distrac- 
tions and interruptions incidental to a short 
stay in Paris must account for my not having 
immediately answered it, as the spirit moved me 
to do. I thank you for it very kindly, and 
am much touched by your telling me that a 
communication from me should in any degree, 
and for a moment, have lighted up the horizon 
of the Alpine crevice, in which I can well believe 
you find it hard, and even cruel, to be condemned 
to pass life. To condole with you on a fate so 
stern must seem at the best but a hollow business ; 
I will therefore only wish you a continuance 
of the courage of which your abundant and 
delightful work gives such evidence, and take 
pleasure in thinking that there may be enter- 
tainment for you in any of my small effusions. 
I did send you the Century more than a year 
ago, with my paper on Venice, not having then 
the prevision of my reprinting it with some 
other things. I sent it you because it was a 
constructive way of expressing the good will I felt 
for you in consequence of what you have written 
about the land of Italy and of intimating to you, 



AET. 40 TO JOHN ADDINGTON SYMONDS 107 

somewhat dumbly, that I am an attentive and 
sympathetic reader. I nourish for the said Italy an 
unspeakably tender passion, and your pages always 
seemed to say to me that you were one of a 
small number of people who love it as much 
as I do in addition to your knowing it immeasur- 
ably better. I wanted to recognize this (to 
your knowledge ;) for it seemed to me that the 
victims of a common passion should sometimes 
exchange a look, and I sent you off the magazine 
at a venture. ... I thank you very sincerely 
for the good-natured things you say of its 
companions. It is all very light work indeed, 
and the only merit I should dream of anyone 
finding in it would be that it is " prettily 
turned." I thank you still further for your 
offer to send me the Tauchnitz volumes of your 
Italian local sketches. I know them already 
well, as I have said, and possess them in the 
English issue ; but I shall welcome them warmly, 
directly from you especially as I gather that 
they have occasional retouchings. 

I lately spent a number of months in America, 
after a long absence, but I live in London and 
have put my constant address at the top of 
my letter. I imagine that it is scarcely ever 
in your power to come to England, but do take 
note of my whereabouts, for this happy (and 
possibly, to you, ideal) contingency. I should 
very much like to see you but I go little, now- 
adays, to Switzerland in summer (though at one 
time I was there a good deal). I think it possible 
moreover that at that season you get out of 
your Alps. I certainly should, in your place, 
for the Alps are easily too many for me. I 
can well imagine the innumerable things you miss 
at Davos year after year and (I will say it) 
I think of you with exceeding sympathy. As a 
sign of that I shall send you everything I publish. 



108 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1884 

I shake hands with [you], and am very truly 
yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Alphonse Daudet. 

3 Bolton St., Piccadilly, W. 

London, 19 Juin [1884]. 
Mon cher Alphonse Daudet, 

J'aurais dft deja vous remercier de tout 
le plaisir que vous m'avez fait en m'envoyant 
Sapho. Je vous suis tres-reconnaissant de cette 
bonne et amicale pensee, qui s'ajoutera desormais, 
pour moi, au souvenir du livre. Je n'avais 
pas attendu 1'arrivee de votre volume pour le 
lire mais cela m'a donne I 5 occasion de m'y 
remettre encore et de tirer un peu au clair les 
diverses impressions que tant d'admirables pages 
m'ont laissees. Je n'essaierai pas de vous rap- 
porter ces impressions dans leur plenitude 
dans la crainte de ne reussir qu'a deformer ma 
pensee tout autant que la votre. Un nouveau 
livre de vous me fait passer par Fesprit une 
foule de belles idees, que je vous confierais de 
vive voix et de grand coeur si j'avais le 
bonheur de vous voir plus souvent. Pour le 
moment, je vous dirai seulement que tout ce 
qui vient de vous compte, pour moi, comme un 
grand evenement, une jouissance rare et fruc- 
tueuse. Je vous aime mieux dans certaines pages 
que dans d'autres, mais vous me charmez, 
vous m'enlevez toujours, et votre maniere me 
penetre plus qu'aucune autre. Je trouve dans 
Sapho enormement de verite et de vie. Ce n'est 
pas du roman, c'est de 1'histoire, et de la plus 
complete et de la mieux eclairee. Lorsqu'on 
a fait un livre aussi solide et aussi serieux que 
celui-la, on n'a besoin d'etre rassure par personne ; 
ce n'est done que pour m'encoura'ger moi-meme 



. 4i TO ALPHONSE DAUDET 109 

que je constate dans Sapho encore une preuve 
a aj outer a celles que vous avez donnees de 
tout ce que le roman peut accomplir comme 
revelation de la vie et du drole de melange que 
nous sommes. La fille est etudiee avec une 
patience merveilleuse c'est un de ces portraits 
qui epuisent un type. Je vous avouerai que 
je trouve le jeune homme un peu sacrifie comme 
etude et comme recherche sa figure me parais- 
sant moins eclairee en comparaison de celle 
de la femme qu'il ne le faudrait pour 1'interet 
moral la valeur tragique. J'aurais voulu que 
vous nous eussiez fait voir davantage par oti il 
a passe en matiere d'experience plus person- 
nelle et plus intime encore que les coucheries 
avec Fanny en matiere de rammollissement de 
volonte et de relachement d'ame. En un mot, 
le drame ne se passe peut-etre pas assez dans Tame 
et dans la conscience de Jean. C'est a mesure 
que nous touchons a son caractere meme que la 
situation devient interessante et ce caractere, 
vous me faites Peffet de 1'avoir un peu neglige. 
Vous me direz que voila un jugement bien 
anglais, et que nous inventons des abstractions, 
comme nous disons, afin de nous dispenser de 
toucher aux grosses realites. J'estime pourtant 
qu'il n'y a rien de plus reel, de plus positif, de plus 
a peindre, qu'un caractere ; c'est la qu'on trouve 
bien la couleur et la forme. Vous 1'avez bien 
prouve, du reste, dans chacun de vos livres, et 
en vous disant que vous avez laisse 1'amant de 
Sapho un peu trop en blanc, ce n'est qu'avec 
vous-meme que je vous compare. Mais je ne 
voulais que vous remercier et repondre a votre 
envoi. Je vous souhaite tout le repos qu'il vous 
faudra pour recommencer encore ! Je garde 
de cette soiree que j'ai passee chez vous au mois 
de fevrier une impression toute colore*e. Je 
vous prie de me rappeler au souvenir bienveillant 



110 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1884 

de Madame Daudet, je vous serre la main et 
suis votre bien devoue confrere, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

H. J.'s article on " The Art of Fiction" was reprinted 
in Partial Portraits. Stevenson's " rejoinder " was the 
essay called " A Humble Remonstrance," included in 
Memories and Portraits. 

3 Bolton St., W. 

Dec. 5th [1884]. 
My dear Robert Louis Stevenson, 

I read only last night your paper in the 
December Longman's in genial rejoinder to my 
article in the same periodical on Besant's lecture, 
and the result of that charming half-hour is a 
friendly desire to send you three words. Not 
words of discussion, dissent, retort or remon- 
strance, but of hearty sympathy, charged with 
the assurance of my enjoyment of everything 
you write. It's a luxury, in this immoral age, 
to encounter some one who does write who 
is really acquainted with that lovely art. It 
wouldn't be fair to contend with you here ; 
besides, we agree, I think, much more than we 
disagree, and though there are points as to which 
a more irrepressible spirit than mine would like 
to try a fall, that is not what I want to say 
but on the contrary, to thank you for so much 
that is suggestive and felicitous in your remarks 
justly felt and brilliantly said. They are full 
of these things, and the current of your admirable 
style floats pearls and diamonds. Excellent are 
your closing words, and no one can assent more 
than I to your proposition that all art is a simpli- 
fication. It is a pleasure to see that truth so 
neatly uttered. My pages, in Longman, were 
simply a plea for liberty : they were only half 



. 4i TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 111 

of what I had to say, and some day I shall try and 
express the remainder. Then I shall tickle you 
a little affectionately as I pass. You will say 
that my " liberty " is an obese divinity, requir- 
ing extra measures ; but after one more go I 
shall hold my tongue. The native gaiety of all 
that you write is delightful to me, and when I 
reflect that it proceeds from a man whom life 
has laid much of the time on his back (as I 
understand it), I find you a genius indeed. 
There must be pleasure in it for you too. I ask 
Colvin about you whenever I see him, and I 
shall have to send him this to forward to you. 
I am with innumerable good wishes yours very 
faithfully, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

The Literary Remains of the late Henry James, with 
an introduction by William James, had just been published 
in America. 

3 Bolton Street, W. 

Jan. 2d, 1885. 
Dear William 

I must give some response, however brief, 
to your letter of Dec. 21st, enclosing the pro- 
ject of your house and a long letter from R. 
Temple. Three days ago, too, came the two 
copies of Father's (and your) book, which have 
[given] me great filial and fraternal joy. All I 
have had time to read as yet is the introduction 
your part of which seems to me admirable, 
perfect. It must have been very difficult to 
do, and you couldn't have done it better. And 
how beautiful and extraordinarily individual 
(some of them magnificent) all the extracts 
from Father's writings which you have selected 



112 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

so happily. It comes over me as I read them 
(more than ever before,) how intensely original 
and personal his whole system was, and how 
indispensable it is that those who go in for religion 
should take some heed of it. I can't enter into 
it (much) myself I can't be so theological nor 
grant his extraordinary premises, nor throw 
myself into conceptions of heavens and hells, 
nor be sure that the keynote of nature is 
humanity, etc. But I can enjoy greatly the 
spirit, the feeling, and the manner of the whole 
thing (full as this last is of things that displease 
me too,) and feel really that poor Father, strug- 
gling so alone all his life, and so destitute of every 
worldly or literary ambition, was yet a great 
writer. At any rate your task is beautifully 
and honourably done may it be as great or 
even half as great a service as it deserves to be, 
to his memory ! The book came at a bad time 
for Alice, as she has had an upset which I will 
tell you of ; but though she has been able to have 
it in her hand but for a moment it evidently 
gives her great pleasure. She burst into tears 
when I gave it to her, exclaiming " How beauti- 
ful it is that William should have done it ! Isn't 
it, isn't it beautiful ? And how good William 
is, how good, how good ! ?: And we talked of 
poor Father's fading away into silence and dark- 
ness, the waves of the world closing over this 
system which he tried to offer it, and of how we 
were touched by this act of yours which will 
(I am sure) do so much to rescue him from 
oblivion. I have received no notice from Scribner 
of the arrival of the other volumes, and shall 
write to him in a day or two if I don't hear. 
But I am rather embarrassed as to what to do 
with so many wishing only to dispose of them 
in a manner which will entail some prospect of 
decent consideration and courtesy. I can give 



AET. 4i TO WILLIAM JAMES 113 

away five or six copies to persons who will 
probably have some attention and care for them 
(e.g. Fredk. Harrison, Stopford Brooke, Burne- 
Jones, Mrs. Orr, etc.) But the newspapers and 
reviews are so grim and philistine and impene- 
trable and stupid, that I can scarcely think of 
any to which it isn't almost an a'ct of untender- 
ness to send it. But I will go into the matter 
with Scribner. . . . The project for your house 
is charming very big it looks, and of a most 
pleasant type. Love to all. 

Ever your 

HENRY. 



To Miss Grace Norton. 

3 Bolton St., W. 

Jan. 24th [1885]. 
My dear Grace, 

It is a feature of life in this place that 
the longer it lasts the more one's liabilities of 
every kind accumulate the more things there 
are to be done, every hour of the day. I have 
so many to do that I am thinking of inventing 
some new day with 40 or 50 hours or else 
some newer one still, with only half a dozen, as 
that would simplify a large proportion of one's 
diurnal duties out of existence. ... I am having 
a " quieter " winter than I have had for some 
years (in London) and have seen very few new 
people and not even many old friends. My 
quietness (comparative of course) is my solemn 
choice, and means that I have been dining out 
much less than at most former times, for the 
sacred purpose of getting my evenings to myself. 
I have been sitting at the festive British board 
for so many years now that I feel as if I had 
earned the right to give it up save in really 



114 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1885 

seductive cases. You can guess the proportion 
of these ! It is the only way to find any time 
to read and my reading was going to the dogs. 
Therefore I propose to become henceforth an 
occasional and not a regular diner, with the 
well-founded hope that my mind, body, spirits, 
temper and general view of the human under- 
standing and of the conversational powers of 
the English race, will be the gainers by it. More- 
over, there is very little " going on ?: the 
country is gloomy, anxious, and London reflects 
its gloom. Westminster Hall and the Tower 
were half blown up two days ago by Irish Dyna- 
miters, there is a catastrophe to the little 
British force in the Soudan in the air (rather an 
ominous want of news since Gen. Stewart's 
victory at Aboukir a week ago,) and a general 
sense of rocks ahead in the foreign relations 
of the country combined with an exceeding 
want of confidence indeed a deep disgust 
with the present ministry in regard to such 
relations. I find such a situation as this ex- 
tremely interesting and it makes me feel how 
much I am attached to this country and, on 
the whole, to its sometimes exasperating people. 
The possible malheurs reverses, dangers, em- 
barrassments, the " decline," in a word, of old 
England, go to my heart, and I can imagine 
no spectacle more touching, more thrilling and 
even dramatic, than to see this great precarious, 
artificial empire, on behalf of which, neverthe- 
less, so much of the strongest and finest stuff 
of the greatest race (for such they are) has been 
expended, struggling with forces which perhaps, 
in the long run, will prove too many for it. If 
she only will struggle, and not collapse and 
surrender and give up a part which, looking at 
Europe as it is to-day, still may be great, the 
drama will be well worth watching from [such] a 



A ET . 4i TO MISS GRACE NORTON 115 

good, near standpoint as I have here. But I 
didn't mean to be so beastly political ! Another 
drama interesting me is the question of poor 
dear J. R. Lowell's possible recall after Cleveland 
mounts the throne. This, to me, is tragic, 
pathetic. His position here is in the highest 
degree honourable, useful, agreeable in short 
perfect ; and to give it all up to return, from 
one day to another, to John Holmes and the 
Brattle Street horsecar (which is very much 
what it amounts to save when he goes to see 
you) seems to me to be the sport of a cruel, 
a barbaric, fortune. ... I haven't asked you 
about yourself the complexion of your winter, 
etc. But there are some things I know suffi- 
ciently without asking. So do you as that I 
am always praying for you (though I don't 
pray, in general, and don't understand it, I make 
this brilliant exception for you !) 

Your very faithful friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

The first number of The Bostonians appeared this 
month in the Century Magazine, containing scenes in 
which the veteran philanthropist " Miss Birdseye " figured. 

3 Bolton St., W. 

Feb. 14th [1885]. 
Dear William, 

I am quite appalled by your note of the 
2nd, in which you assault me on the subject of 
my having painted a " portrait from life " of 
Miss Peabody ! I was in some measure prepared 
for it by Lowell's (as I found the other day) 
taking for granted that she had been my model, 
and an allusion to the same effect in a note from 
Aunt Kate. Still, I didn't expect the charge 



116 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

to come from you. I hold that I have done 
nothing to deserve it. ... I should be very 
sorry in fact deadly sick, or fatally ill if 
I thought Miss Peabody herself supposed I 
intended to represent her. I absolutely had 
no shadow of such an intention. I have not 
seen Miss P. for twenty years, I never had but 
the most casual observation of her, I didn't 
know whether she was alive or dead, and she 
was not in the smallest degree my starting- 
point or example. Miss Birdseye was evolved 
entirely from my moral consciousness, like every 
other person I have ever drawn, and originated 
in my desire to make a figure who should embody 
in a sympathetic, pathetic, picturesque, and at 
the same time grotesque way, the humanitary 
and ci-devant transcendental tendencies which 
I thought it highly probable I should be accused 
of treating in a contemptuous manner in so far 
as they were otherwise represented in the tale. 
I wished to make this figure a woman, because 
so it would be more touching, and an old, weary, 
battered, and simple-minded woman because 
that deepened the same effect. I elaborated 
her in my mind's eye and after I had got going 
reminded myself that my creation would 
perhaps be identified with Miss Peabody that 
I freely admit. So I have in mind the sense of 
being careful, at the same time that I didn't 
see what I could do but go my way, according 
to my own fancy, and make my image as living 
as I saw it. The one definite thing about which 
I had a scruple was some touch about Miss 
Birdseye's spectacles I remembered that Miss 
Peabody's were always in the wrong place ; 
but I didn't see, really, why I should deprive 
myself of an effect (as regards this point) which 
is common to a thousand old people. So I 
thought no more about Miss P. at all, but simply 



AET. 4i TO WILLIAM JAMES 117 

strove to realize my vision. If I have made my 
old woman live it is my misfortune, and the 
thing is doubtless a rendering, a vivid rendering, 
of my idea. If it is at the same time a rendering 
of Miss P. I am absolutely irresponsible and 
extremely sorry for the accident. If there is 
any chance of its being represented to her that 
I have undertaken to reproduce her in a novel 
I will immediately write to her, in the most 
respectful manner, to say that I have done 
nothing of the kind, that an old survivor of the 
New England Reform period was an indispens- 
able personage in my story, that my paucity of 
data and not my repletion is the faulty side of 
the whole picture, that, as I went, I had no 
sight or thought of her, but only of an imaginary 
figure which was much nearer to me, and that 
in short I have the vanity to claim that Miss 
Birdseye is a creation. You may think I 
protest too much : but I am alarmed by the 
sentence in your letter " It is really a pretty 
bad business," and haunted by the idea that 
this may apply to some rumour you have heard 
of Miss Peabody's feeling atteinte. I can imagine 
no other reason why you should call the picture 
of Miss Birdseye a " bad business," or indeed 
any business at all. I would write to Miss P. 
on this chance only I don't like to assume 
that she feels touched, when it is possible that 
she may not, and knows nothing about the 
matter. If you can ascertain whether or no 
she does and will let me know, I will, should 
there be need or fitness, immediately write to 
her. Miss Birdseye is a subordinate figure in 
the Bostonians, and after appearing in the first 
and second numbers vanishes till toward the 
end, where she re-enters, briefly, and patheti- 
cally and honourably dies. But though subor- 
dinate, she is, I think, the best figure in the 



118 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

book ; she is treated with respect throughout, 
and every virtue of heroism and disinterested- 
ness is attributed to her. She is represented 
as the embodiment of pure, the purest philan- 
thropy. The story is, I think, the best fiction 
I have written, and I expected you, if you 
said anything about it, would intimate that 
you thought as much so that I find this charge 
on the subject of Miss Peabody a very cold 
douche indeed. . . 

Ever yours, 

H. JAMES. 

To James Russell Lowell. 

Lowell was now leaving London after having held the 
post of American Minister there since 1880. 

St. Alban's Cliff, 
Bournemouth. 

May 29th [1885]. 
My dear Lowell, 

My hope of coming up to town again 
has been defeated, and it comes over me that 
your departure is terribly near. Therefore I 
write you a line of hearty and affectionate fare- 
wellmitigated by the sense that after all it is 
only for a few months that we are to lose you. 
I trust, serenely, to your own conviction of 
this fact, but for extra safety just remark that 
if you don't return to London next winter I 
shall hurl myself across the ocean at you like 
a lasso. As I look back upon the years of your 
mission my heart swells and almost breaks 
again (as it did when I heard you were 
superseded) at the thought that anything so 
perfect should be gratuitously destroyed. But 
there is a part of your function which can 
go on again, indefinitely, whenever you take 



A ET . 42 TO JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL 119 

it up and that, I repeat, I hope you will do 
soon rather than late. I think with the tenderest 
pleasure of the many fire-side talks I have had 
with you, from the first and with a pleasure 
dimmed with sadness of so many of our more 
recent ones. You are tied to London now by 
innumerable cords and fibres, and I should be 
glad to think that you ever felt me, ever so 
lightly, pulling at one of them. It is a great 
disappointment to me not to see you again, 
but I am kept here fast and shall not be in town 
till the end of June. I give you my blessing 
and every good wish for a happy voyage. I wish 
I could receive you over there and assist at 
your arrival and impressions little as I want 
you to go back. Don't forget that you have 
produced a relation between England and the 
U.S. which is really a gain to civilization and 
that you must come back to look after your 
work. You can't look after it there : that is 
the function of an Englishman and if you do 
it there they will call you one. The only way 
you can be a good American is to return to our 
dear old stupid, satisfactory London, and to 
yours ever affectionately and faithfully, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To William James. 

To prevent confusion of names it should be mentioned 
that the " Alice " referred to at the end of this letter is 
H. J.'s sister-in-law, Mrs. William James. His sister, Miss 
Alice James, remained in England till her death six years 
later. 

13 De Vere Mansions, W. 

March 9th [1886]. 
My dear William, 

Long before getting your most excellent 
letter of Feb. 21st I had been pricked with shame 



120 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

and remorse at my long silence ; you may 
imagine then how this pang sharpened when, 
three or four days ago, that letter arrived. There 
were all sorts of reasons for my silence which 
I won't take up time now with narrating further 
than to say that they were not reasons of mis- 
fortune or discomfort but only of other-en gage- 
ment-and-occupation pressure connected with 
arrears of writing, consumption of time in 
furnishing and preparing my new habitation, 
and the constant old story of London inter- 
ruptions and distractions. Thank God I am 
out of them far more now than I have ever been 
before in my chaste and secluded Kensington 
quatrieme. I moved in here definitely only 
three days ago, and am still rather upside down. 
The place is excellent in every respect, improves 
on acquaintance every hour and is, in particular, 
flooded with light like a photographer's studio. 
I commune with the unobstructed sky and 
have an immense bird's-eye view of housetops 
and streets. My rooms are very pretty as well 
as very convenient, and will be more so when 
little by little I have got more things. When 
I have time I will make you a diagram, and 
later, when the drawing-room (or library : 
meantime I have a smaller sitting-room in 
order) is furnished (I have nothing for it yet,) 
I shall have the place photographed. I shall 
do far better work here than I have ever done 
before. 

Alice is going on the same very good way, 
and receiving visits almost daily. A great many 
people come to see her ; she is highly appreciated, 
and might easily, if she were to stay here, 
getting sufficiently better to exert herself more 
&c, become a great success and queen of society. 
Her vigour of mind, decision of character &c, 
wax daily, and her conversation is brilliant 



. 42 TO WILLIAM JAMES 121 

and semillant. She could easily, if she were 
to stay, beat the British female all round. She 
is also looking very well. . . The weather con- 
tinues bitterly cold, and there will be no question 
of her going out for a long time to come. 
The two great public matters here have been 

the riot, and the everlasting and most odious 

scandal. (I mean, of course, putting the all- 
overshadowing Irish question aside.) I was at 
Bournemouth (seeing R. L. Stevenson) the day 
of the emeute, and lost the spectacle, to my 
infinite chagrin. I should have seen it well 
from my balcony, as I should have been at 
home when it passed, and it smashed the win- 
dows in the houses (three doors from mine) 
on the corner of Bolton St. and Piccadilly. 
Alice was all unconscious of it till the morrow, 
and was not at all agitated. The wreck and 
ruin in Piccadilly and some other places (I 
mean of windows) was, on my return from 
Bournemouth, sufficiently startling, as was also 
the manner in which the carriages of a num- 
ber of ladies were stopped, and the occupants 
hustled, rifled, slapped or kissed, as the case 
might be, and turned out. The real unem- 
ployed, I believe, had very little share in all 
this : it was the work of the great army of 
roughs and thieves, who seized, owing to the 
very favourable nature of their opportunity, 
a day of licence. It is difficult to know whether 
the real want of work is now, or not, so very 
much greater than usual in face of positive 
affirmations and negations ; there is, at any 
rate, immense destitution. Every one here is 
growing poorer from causes which, I fear, will 
continue. All the same, what took place the 
other day is, I feel pretty sure, the worst that, 
for a long time to come, the British populace 
is likely to attempt. . . I can't talk about 



122 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isse 

the Irish matter partly because one is sick 
of it partly because I know too little about 
it, and one is still more sick of all the vain words 
on the subject, without knowledge or thought, 
that fill the air here. I don't believe much 
in the Irish, and I believe still less [in] (consider 
with less complacency) the disruption of the 
British Empire, but I don't see how the manage- 
ment of their own affairs can be kept away 
from them or why it should. I can't but 
think that, as they are a poor lot, with great 
intrinsic^ sources of weakness, their power to 
injure and annoy England (if they were to get 
their own parliament) would be considerably 
less than is assumed. 

The " Bostonians " must be out, in America, 
by this time ; I told them, of course, to send 
you a copy. It appears to be having a goodish 
success there. All your tidings about your own 
life, Bob, &c, were of the deepest interest. . . 
I wish I could assist at your researches and 
see the children, and commune with Alice 
to whom I send much brotherly love. 

Ever your 

HENRY. 



To Charles Eliot Norton. 

Professor Norton had sent H. J. the first instalment of 
his edition of Carlyle's correspondence. 

Milan, December 6th [1886], 
My dear Charles, 

I ought long ago to have thanked you 
for your very substantial present of Carlyle 
but I waited in the first place till I should have 
read the book (which business was consider- 
ably delayed,) and then till I had wound up 
a variety of little matters, mainly matters of 



A ET . 43 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 123 

writing which pressed upon me in anticipation of 
my leaving England for two or three months. 
Now when at last I seize the moment, I have 
left England, but you will be as glad of a letter 
from here as from out of the dense grey medium 
in which we had been living for a month before 
I quitted London. I came hither straight from 
Dover last night through the hideous but con- 
venient hole in the dear old St. Gotthard, and 
I have been strolling about Milan all the 
morning, drinking in the delicious Italian sun, 
which fortunately shines, and giving myself 
up to the sweet sense of living once more- 
after an interval of several years in the ador- 
able country it illumines. It is Sunday and all 
the world is in' the streets and squares, and 
the Italian type greets me in all its handsome- 
ness and friendliness, and also, I fear I must 
add, not a little in its vulgarity. But its 
vulgarity is the exaggeration of a merit and 
not, as in England and the U.S., of a defect. 
Churches and galleries have such a fatal chill 
that being sorethroatish and neuralgic I have 
had to keep out of them, but the Duomo lifts all 
its pinnacles and statues into the far away light, 
and looks across at the other white needles 
and spires of the Alps in the same bewildering 
cluster. I go to spend the remainder of this 
month in Florence and afterwards to I hope 
take a month between Rome, Naples and 
Venice- but it will be as it will turn out. Once 
I am in Italy it is about the same to me to be 
in one place as in another. 

All this takes me away from Carlyle and 
from the Annandale view of life. I read the 
two volumes with exceeding interest ; for my 
admiration of Carlyle as a letter writer is 
boundless, and it is curious to watch the first 
step and gradual amplification of his after- 



124 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isse 

wards extraordinary style. Those addressed 
to his own family are most remarkable as 
dedicated to a household of peasants, by one 
of themselves, and in short for the amateur 
of Carlyle the book has a high value. But 
I doubt whether the general public will bite 
at it very eagerly. I don't know why I allude 
to this, though for the general public has 
small sense and less taste, and its likes and 
dislikes, I think, must mostly make the judici- 
ous grieve. You seem to me a most perfect 
and ideal editor and it is a great pleasure 
to me that so excellent and faultless a piece 
of editorial work should proceed from our rough 
and ready country but at the same time your 
demolitions of the unspeakable Froude don't 
persuade me that Carlyle was amiable. It seems 
to me he remains the most disagreeable in 
character of men of genius of equal magnifi- 
cence. In these youthful letters it appears to 
me even striking how his disagreeableness comes 
out more and more in proportion as his talent 
develops. This doesn't prevent him, however, 
from being in my opinion and doubtless 
in yours one of the very greatest perhaps 
the very greatest of letter writers ; only when 
one thinks of the other most distinguished 
masters of expression the image evoked has 
(though sometimes it may be sad enough) a 
serenity, a general pleasantness. When the 
vision of Carlyle comes to us there comes with 
it the idea of harshness and discord. The 
difference between the man and the genius 
seems to me, in other words, greater than in 
any other case for if Voltaire was a rascal 
he was eminently a social one and Rousseau 
(to think of a great intellectual swell who must 
have been odious) hadn't anything like Carlyle's 
" parts." All the same, I shall devour the 



AET. 43 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 125 

volumes I am delighted to see you are still 
to publish. 

I ought to have plenty of London news for 
you but somehow I feel as if I had not brought 
it to Italy with me. Much of it, in these days, 
is such as ;here must be little profit in carrying 
about with one. The subject of the moment, 

as I came away, was the hideous divorce 

case, which will besmirch exceedingly the 
already very damaged prestige of the English 
upper class. The condition of that body seems 
to me to be in many ways very much the same 
rotten and collapsable one as that of the French 
aristocracy before the revolution minus clever- 
ness and conversation ; or perhaps it's more 
like the heavy, congested and depraved Roman 
world upon which the barbarians came down. 
In England the Huns and Vandals will have 
to come up from the black depths of the (in 
the people) enormous misery, though I don't 
think the Attila is quite yet found in the 
person of Mr. Hyndman. At all events, much 
of English life is grossly materialistic and wants 
blood-letting. I had not been absent from 
London for a year before this save for two 
or three days at a time. I remained in town 
all summer and autumn only paying an 
occasional, or indeed a rather frequent, country 
visit a business, however, which I endeavour 
more and more to keep, if possible, within the 
compass of hours. The gilded bondage of the 
country house becomes onerous as one grows 
older, and then the waste of time in vain sitting 
and strolling about is a gruesome thought in 
the face of what one still wants to do with one's 
remnant of existence. I saw Matt Arnold the 
other night, and he spoke very genially of you 
and of his visit to Ashfield very affectionately, 
too, of George Curtis which I loudly echoed. 



126 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES me 

M. A. said of Stockbridge and the summer life 
thereabouts, etc. (with his chin in the air) 
6 Yes, yes it's a proof that it's attaching 
that one thinks of it again one thinks of it 
again." This was amiably sublime and amiably 
characteristic. I see Burne-Jones from time to 
time, but not as often as I should like. I am 
always so afraid of breaking in on his work. 
Whenever he is at home he is working and 
when he isn't working he's not at home. When 
I do see him, it is one of the best human 
pleasures that London has for me. But I don't 
understand his life that is the manner and 
tenor of his production a complete studio exis- 
tence, with doors and windows closed, and no 
search for impressions outside no open air, 
no real daylight and no looking out for it. The 
things he does in these conditions have exceed- 
ing beauty but they seem to me to grow colder 
and colder pictured abstractions, less and less 
observed. Such as he is, however, he is 
certainly the most distinguished artistic figure 
among Englishmen to-day the only one who 
has escaped vulgarization and on whom clap- 
trap has no hold. Moreover he is, as you know, 
exquisite in mind and talk and we fraternize 
greatly. . . - 

To Miss Grace Norton. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

July 23rd, 1887. 
My dear Grace, 

I am ashamed to find myself back in 
England without having fulfilled the inward 
vow I took when I received your last good and 
generous letter that of writing to you before 
my long stay on the continent was over. But 
I almost don't fail of that vow inasmuch as 



A ET . 44 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 127 

I returned only day before yesterday. My eight 
months escape into the happy immunities of 
foreign life is over and the stern realities of 
London surround me, in the shape of stuffy 
midsummer heat (that of this metropolis has 
a truly British ponderosity it's as dull as an 
article in a Quarterly,) smoke, circulars, invita- 
tions, bills, the one sauce that Talleyrand 
commemorated, and reverberations of the gro- 
tesque Jubilee. On the other hand my small 
house seems most pleasant and peculiar (in 
the sense of being my own,) and my servants 
are as punctual as they are prim which is 
saying much. N But I enjoyed my absence, and 
I shall endeavour to repeat it every year, for 
the future, on a smaller scale ; that is, to leave 
London, not at the beginning of the winter 
but at the end, by the mid- April, and take the 
period of the insufferable Season regularly in 
Italy. It was a great satisfaction to me to 
find that I am as fond of that dear country 
as I ever was and that its infinite charm and 
interest are one of the things in life to be most 
relied upon. I was afraid that the dryness 
of age which drains us of so many sentiments 
had reduced my old tendresse to a mere memory. 
But no it is really so much in my pocket, 
as it were, to feel that Italy is always there. 
It is rather rude, my dear Grace, to say all 
this to you for whom it is there to so little 
purpose. But if I should observe this scruple 
about all the places that you don't go to, or 
are not in, when I write to you, my writing 
would go very much on one leg. I was back 
again in Venice where I paid a second visit 
late in the season (from the middle of May to 
July 1st) when I got your last letter. I was 
staying at the Palazzo Barbaro, with the Daniel 
Curtises the happy owners, to-day, of that 



128 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iss? 

magnificent house a place of which the full 
charm only sinks into your spirit as you go on 
living there, seeing it in all its hours and phases. 
I went for ten days, and they clinging to me, 
I stayed five weeks : the longest visit I ever 
paid a " private family." ... In the interval 
between my two visits to Venice I took again 
some rooms at the Villa Bricchieri at Bello- 
sguardo the one just below your old Ombrellino 
where I. had stayed for three December weeks 
on my arrival in Florence. The springtime 
there was enchanting, and you know what a 
thing that incomparable view is to live with. 
I really did live with it, and rejoiced in it every 
minute, holding it to be (to my sensibilities) 
positively the most beautiful and interesting 
in the world. Florence was given over to fetes 
during most of those weeks the fetes of the 
completion of the fagade of the Duomo which 
by the way (the new faade) isn't " half bad." 
It is of a very splendouriferous effect, and there 
is doubtless too much of it. But it does great 
honour to the contemporary (as well as to the 
departed) Italian and I don't believe such 
work could have been produced elsewhere than 
in that country of the delicate hand and the 
insinuating chisel. I stepped down into the 
fetes from my hill top and even put on a 
crimson lucco and a beautiful black velvet head- 
gear and disported myself at the great ballo 
storico that was given at the Palazzo Vecchio 
to the King and Queen. This had the defect 
of its class a profusion of magnificent costumes 
but a want of entrain ; and the success of the 
whole episode was much more a certain 
really splendid procession of the old time, with 
all the Strozzis, Guicciardinis, Rucellais, etc., 
mounted on magnificent horses and wearing 
admirable dresses with the childlike gallantry 



A ET . 44 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 129 

and glee with which only Italians can wear 
them, riding through the brown old streets 
and followed by an immense train of citizens 
all in the carefullest quattro-cento garb. This 
was really a noble picture and testified to the 
latent love of splendour which is still in those 
dear people and which only asks for a favouring 
chance to shine out, even at the cost of ruining 
them. Before leaving Italy I spent a week 
with Mrs. Kemble at Lago Maggiore she hav- 
ing dipped over there, in spite of torrid heat. 
She is a very (or at least a partly) extinct volcano 
to-day, and very easy and delightful to dwell 
with, in her aged resignation and adoucissements . 
But she did suggest to me, on seeing her again 
after so long an interval, that it is rather 
a melancholy mistake, in this uncertain life 
of ours, to have founded oneself on so many 
rigidities and rules so many siftings and sort- 
ings. Mrs. Kemble is toute d'une piece, more 
than any one, probably, that ever lived ; she 
moves in a mass, and if she does so little as to 
button her glove it is the whole of her " person- 
ality " that does it. Let us be flexible, dear 
Grace ; let us be flexible ! and even if we 
don't reach the sun we shall at least have been 
up in a balloon. I left Stresa on the 15th of 
this month, had a glorious day on the Simplon 
amid mountain streams and mountain flowers, 
and came quickly home. ... I shall be here 
for the rest of the summer save for little 
blotches of absence and I look forward to 
some quiet months of work. I am trying, not 
without success, to get out of society as hard 
as some people try to get in. I want to be 
dropped and cut and consummately ignored. 
This only demands a little patience, and I hope 
eventually to elbow my way down to the 
bottom of the wave to achieve an obscurity. 



130 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iss? 

This would sound fatuous if I didn't add that 
success is easily within my grasp. I know it 
all all that one sees by " going out " to-day, 
as if I had made it. But if I had, I would 
have made it better ! I think of you on your 
porch amid all your creepers and tendrils ; 
and wherever you are, dear Grace, I am your 
very faithful and much remembering friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Edmund Gosse. 

Stevenson and his family sailed for America a few days 
after the date of this letter. Mr. Gosse has described the 
episode in his recollections of R. L. S. (Critical Kit-kats). 
Stevenson's life in the South Seas began in the following 
year, and his friends in England saw him no more. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

August 17th [1887]. 
Dear Gosse, 

I went to-day to R. L. S.'s ship, which 
is at the Albert Dock, about 20 minutes in 
the train from Fenchurch Street. Its sailing 
has been put off till Monday forenoon, so there 
is more time to do something. I couldn't, 
after all, get on the ship as she stood off from 
the dock, without a convenient approach, and 
both the captain and the steward (whom I 
wanted to see) were not there, as I was told 
by a man on the dock who was seeing some 
things being put on by a crane in which I couldn't 
be transferred. The appearance of the vessel 
was the reverse of attractive, though she is 
rather large than small. I write to-night to 
Mrs. Stevenson, to ask if they are really coming 
up to sail that is if nothing has interfered at 
the last moment. If they are, there is nothing 
to be done to deter them, that I see. I shall 
ask her to telegraph me an answer. I shall 



44 TO EDMUND GOSSE 131 

feel that I must go again (to the ship), as I don't 
very well see how things are to be sent there. I 
will telegraph you what she telegraphs me and 
what I decide to do. 

Ever yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

H. J.'s article on R. L. S. appeared in the Century 
Magazine, April 1888, and was reprinted in Partial 
Portraits. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

October 30th, 1887. 
My dear Louis, 

It is really a delight to get your charming 
letter (from the undecipherable lake) just this 
very blessed minute. Long alienation has 
made my American geography vague, and not 
knowing what your lake is I know still less 
where it is. Nevertheless I roughly suspect 
it of being in the Adirondacks ; if it isn't, 
may it excuse the injury. Let me tell you, 
quickly and crudely, that I am quite exhilar- 
ated that you like the Article. I thought 
or rather I hoped that you would, and yet 
I feared you wouldn't i.e. mightn't and alto- 
gether I was not so convinced but that your 
expression of pleasure is a reassurance to me as 
well as a gratification. I felt, while I wrote, 
that you served me well ; you were really, 
my dear fellow, a capital subject I will 
modestly grant you that, though it takes the 
bloom from my merit. To be not only witty 
one's self but the cause in others of a wit that 
is not at one's expense that is a rare and high 
character, and altogether yours. I devoutly 
hope that it's in the November Century that 
the thing appears, and also that it was not 



132 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iss? 

too apparent to you in it that I hadn't seen 
a proof a privation I detest. I wrote to you 
some three weeks or so ago c/o Scribners. 
Wondrous seems to me the fate that leads 
you to the prospect of wintering at well, wher- 
ever you are. The succession of incidents and 
places in your career is ever romantic. May 
you find what you need white, sunny winter 
hours, not too stove-heated nor too pork-fed, 
with a crisp dry air and a frequent leisure and 
no desperation of inanition. And may much 
good prose flow from it all. I wish I could 
see you in my mind's eye : but que dis-je ? 
I do and the minutest particularities of your 
wooden bower rise before me. I see the clap- 
boards and the piazza and the door-step and 
the door-handle, and the road in front and the 
yard behind. Don't yearn to extinction for 
the trim little personality of Skerryvore. I 
have great satisfaction in hearing (from Mrs. 
Procter, of course) that that sweet house is 
let to those Canadians. May they be punctual 
with their rent. Do tell your wife, on her return 
from the wild West, that I supplicate her to write 
to me, with items, details, specifications, and 
insistences. I am now collecting some papers 
into a volume ; and the Article, par excellence, 
in the midst. May the American air rest lightly 
on you, my dear friend : I wish it were mine 
to turn it on ! 

Ever faithfully yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. My love to your wife goes without 
saying but I send a very explicit friendliness to 
your mother. I hope she returns the liking of 
America. And I bless the ticking Lloyd. 



AET. 44 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 133 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Stevenson's letter (answered by the following) of admir- 
ation of Roderick Hudson and execration of The Portrait 
of a Lady is included in the Letters to his Family and 
Friends, edited by Sir Sidney Colvin. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
December 5th [1887]. 
My dear Louis, 

I could almost hate poor Roderick H. 
(in whom, at best, as in all my past and shuffled 
off emanations and efforts, my interest is of 
the slenderest,) for making you write so much 
more about him than about a still more fascin- 
ating hero. If you had only given me a 
small instalment of that romantic serial, The 
Mundane Situation of R. L. S. ! My dear fellow, 
you skip whole numbers at a time. Your 
correspondent wouldn't. I am really delighted 
you can find something at this late day in that 
work in which my diminutive muse first tried 
to elongate her little legs. It is a book of con- 
siderable good faith, but I think of limited 
skill. Besides, directly my productions are 
finished, or at least thrust out to earn their 
living, they seem to me dead. They dwindle 
when weaned removed from the parental 
breast, and only flourish, a little, while imbibing 
the milk of my plastic care. None the less 
am I touched by your excellent and friendly 
words. Perhaps I am touched even more by 
those you dedicate to the less favoured Portrait. 
My dear Louis, I don't think I follow you here 
why does that work move you to such scorn 
since you can put up with Roderick, or with 
any of the others ? As they are, so it is, and 
as it is, so they are. Upon my word you are 
unfair to it and I scratch my head bewildered. 



134 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iss? 

'Tis surely a graceful, ingenious, elaborate 
work with too many pages, but with (I think) 
an interesting subject, and a good deal of 
life and style. There ! All my works may be 
damnable but I don't perceive the particular 
damnability of that one. However I feel as 
if it were almost gross to defend myself for 
even your censure pleases and your restrictions 
refresh. I have this very day received from 
Mr. Bain your Memories and Portraits, and I 
lick my chops in advance. It is very delect- 
able, I can see, and it has the prettiest coat 
and face of any of your volumes. London 
is settling to its winter pace, and the cool rich 
fogs curtain us in. I see Colvin once in a 
while dans le monde, which however I frequent 
less and less. I miss you too sensibly. My love 
to your wife and mother my greeting to the 
brave Lloyd. 

Ever yours very faithfully, 

H. JAMES. 

P.S. I am unspeakably vexed at the 
Century's long delay in printing my paper on 
you it is quite sickening. But I am helpless 
and they tell me it won't come out till March 

d n 'em all. I am also sorry very not 

to have any other prose specimens of my own 
genius to send you. I have really written a 
good deal lately but the beastly periodicals 
hold them back : I can't make out why. But 
I trust the dance will begin before long, and 
that then you may glean some pleasure. I 
pray you, do write something yourself for one 
who knows and yet is famished : for there isn't 
a morsel here that will keep one alive. I won't 
question you 'twere vain but I wish I knew 
more about you. I want to see you where 
you live and how and the complexion of your 



AET. 44 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 135 

days. But I don't know even the name of 
your habitat nor the date of your letter : neither 
were on the page. I bless you all the same. 



To W. D. Howells. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

January 2nd, 1888. 
My dear Howells, 

Your pretty read book (that is a mis- 
print for red, but it looks well, better than 
it deserves, so I let it stand,) the neat and 
attractive volume, with its coquettish inscrip- 
tion over its mystifying date, came in to me 
exactly as a new year's gift. I was delighted 
to get it, for I had not perused it in the pages 
of Harper, for reasons that you will under- 
stand knowing as you must how little the 
habit of writing in the serial form encourages 
one to read in that odious way, which so many 
simple folk, thank heaven, think the best. I 
was on the point of getting April Hopes to 
add to the brave array of its predecessors 
(mine by purchase, almost all of them,) when 
your graceful act saved me the almost equally 
graceful sacrifice. I can make out why you 
are at Buffalo almost as little as I believe that 
you believe that I have " long forgotten " you. 
The intimation is worthy of the most tortuous 
feminine mind that you have represented 
say this wondrous lady, with the daughter, 
in the very first pages of April Hopes, with 
whom I shall make immediate and marvelling 
acquaintance. Your literary prowess takes my 
breath away you write so much and so well. 
I seem to myself a small brown snail crawling 
after a glossy antelope. Let me hope that 
you enjoy your work as much as you ought 



136 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

to that the grind isn't greater than the inevit- 
able (from the moment one really tries to do 
anything). Certainly one would never guess 
it, from your abounding page. How much I 
wish I could keep this lovely new year by a 
long personal talk with you. I am troubled 
about many things, about many of which you 
could give me, I think (or rather I am sure,) 
advice and direction. I have entered upon 
evil days but this is for your most private 
ear. It sounds portentous, but it only means 
that I am still staggering a good deal under 
the mysterious and (to me) inexplicable injury 
wrought apparently upon my situation by my 
two last novels, the Bostonians and the Princess, 
from which I expected so much and derived 
so little. They have reduced the desire, and 
the demand, for my productions to zero as 
I judge from the fact that though I have for 
a good while past been writing a number of 
good short things, I remain irremediably un- 
published. Editors keep them back, for months 
and years, as if they were ashamed of them, 
and I am condemned apparently to eternal 
silence. You must be so widely versed in all 
the reasons of things (of this sort, to-day) 
in the U.S. that if I could discourse with you 
awhile by the fireside I should endeavour to 
draw from you some secret to break the spell. 
However, I don't despair, for I think I am 
now really in better form than I have ever 
been in my life, and I propose yet to do many 
things. Very likely too, some day, all my 
buried prose will kick off its various tomb- 
stones at once. Therefore don't betray me till 
I myself have given up. That won't be for 
a long time yet. If we could have that rich 
conversation I should speak to you too of your 
monthly polemics in Harper and tell you (I 



. 44 TO W. D. HOWELLS 137 

think I should go as far as that) of certain parts 
of the business in which I am less with you 
than in others. It seems to me that on occasions 
you mix things up that don't go together, some- 
times make mistakes of proportion, and in 
general incline to insist more upon the restric- 
tions and limitations, the a priori formulas 
and interdictions, of our common art, than 
upon that priceless freedom which is to me 
the thing that makes it worth practising. But 
at this distance, my dear Howells, such things 
are too delicate and complicated they won't 
stand so long a journey. Therefore I won't 
attempt them but only say how much I am 
struck with your energy, ingenuity, and cour- 
age, and your delightful interest in the charm- 
ing questions. I don't care how much you 
dispute about them if you will only remember 
that a grain of example is worth a ton of precept, 
and that with the imbecility of babyish critics 
the serious writer need absolutely not con- 
cern himself. I am surprised, sometimes, at 
the things you notice and seem to care about. 
One should move in a diviner air. ... I even 
confess that since the Bostonians, I find myself 
holding the " critical world " at large in a sin- 
gular contempt. I go so far as to think that 
the literary sense is a distinctly waning quality. 
I can speak of your wife and children only 
interrogatively which will tell you little and 
me, I fear, less. But let me at least be affirma- 
tive to the extent of wishing them all, very 
affectionately, and to Mrs. H. in particular, the 
happiest New Year. Go on, my dear Howells, 
and send me your books always as I think I 
send you mine. Continue to write only as your 
admirable ability moves you and believe me 
Ever faithfully yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



138 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

To Robert Louis Stevenson. 
The novel, just begun, was The Tragic Muse. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

July 31st [1888]. 
My dear Louis, 

You are too far away you are too 
absent too invisible, inaudible, inconceivable. 
Life is too short a business and friendship 
too delicate a matter for such tricks for cutting 
great gory masses out of 'em by the year at a 
time. Therefore come back. Hang it all sink 
it all and come back. A little more and I shall 
cease to believe in you : I don't mean (in the 
usual implied phrase) in your veracity, but 
literally and more fatally in your relevancy 
your objective reality. You have become a 
beautiful myth a kind of unnatural uncomfort- 
able unburied mort. You put forth a beautiful 
monthly voice, with such happy notes in it 
but it comes from too far away, from the other 
side of the globe, while I vaguely know that 
you are crawling like a fly on the nether surface 
of my chair. Your adventures, no doubt, are 
wonderful ; but I don't successfully evoke them, 
understand them, believe in them. I do in 
those you write, heaven knows but I don't 
in those you perform, though the latter, I know, 
are to lead to new revelations of the former 
and your capacity for them is certainly wonder- 
ful enough. This is a selfish personal cry : 
I wish you back ; for literature is lonely and 
Bournemouth is barren without you. Your place 
in my affection has not been usurped by another 
for there is not the least little scrap of another 
to usurp it. If there were I would perversely 
try to care for him. But there isn't I repeat, 
and I literally care for nothing but your return. 



. 45 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 139 

I haven't even your novel to stay my stomach 
withal. The wan wet months elapse and I 
see no sign of it. The beautiful portrait of 
your wife shimmers at me from my chimney- 
piece brought some months ago by the natural 
McClure but seems to refer to one as 
dim and distant and delightful as a " toast " 
of the last century. I wish I could make you 
homesick I wish I could spoil your fun. It 
is a very featureless time. The summer is 
rank with rheumatism a dark, drowned, un- 
precedented season. The town is empty but I 
am not going away. I have no money, but 
I have a little work. I have lately written 
several short fictions but you may not see 
them unless you come home. I have just begun 
a novel which is to run through the Atlantic 
from January 1st and which I aspire to finish 
by the end of this year. In reality I suppose 
I shall not be fully delivered of it before the 
middle of next. After that, with God's help, 
I propose, for a longish period, to do nothing 
but short lengths. I want to leave a multitude 
of pictures of my time, projecting my small 
circular frame upon as many different spots 
as possible and going in for number as well 
as quality, so that the number may constitute 
a total having a certain value as observation 
and testimony. But there isn't so much as 
a creature here even to whisper such an intention 
to. Nothing lifts its hand in these islands 
save blackguard party politics. Criticism is of 
an abject density and puerility it doesn't 
exist it writes the intellect of our race too 
low. Lang, in the D.N., every morning, and 
I believe in a hundred other places, uses his 
beautiful thin facility to write everything down 
to the lowest level of Philistine twaddle the 
view of the old lady round the corner or the 



140 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

clever person at the dinner party. The incor- 
porated society of authors (I belong to it, and 
so do you, I think, but I don't know what it 
is) gave a dinner the other night to American 
literati to thank them for praying for inter- 
national copyright. I carefully forbore to go, 
thinking the gratulation premature, and I see 
by this morning's Times that the banquetted 
boon is further off than ever. Edmund Gosse 
has sent me his clever little life of Congreve, 
just out, and I have read it but it isn't so 
good as his Raleigh. But no more was the 
insufferable subject. . . . Come, my dear Louis, 
grow not too thin. I can't question you 
because, as I say, I don't conjure you up. You 
have killed the imagination in me that part 
of it which formed your element and in which 
you sat vivid and near. Your wife and Mother 
and Mr Lloyd suffer also I must confess it 
by this failure of breath, of faith. Of course 
I have your letter from Manasquan (is that 
the idiotic name ? ) of the ingenuous me, 
to think there was a date ! It was terribly 
impersonal it did me little good. A little more 
and I shan't believe in you enough to bless 
you. Take this, therefore, as your last chance. 
I follow all with an aching wing, an inadequate 
geography and an ineradicable hope. Ever, my 
dear Louis, yours, to the last snub 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

Hotel de 1'^cu, Geneva. 

October 29th, 1888. 
My dear William, 

Your beautiful and delightful letter of 
the 14th, from your country home, descended 
upon me two days ago, and after penetrating 



. 45 TO WILLIAM JAMES 141 

myself with it for 24 hours I sent it back to 
England, to Alice, on whom it will confer equal 
beatitude : not only because so copious, but 
because so " cheerful in tone " and appearing 
to show that the essentials of health and happi- 
ness are with you. I wish to delay no hour 
longer to write to you, though I am at this 
moment rather exhausted with the effort of 
a long letter, completed five minutes since, 
to Louis Stevenson, in answer to one I lately 
received from his wife, from some undecipher- 
able cannibal-island in the Pacific. They are 
such far-away, fantastic, bewildering people that 
there is a certain fatigue in the achievement 
of putting one's self in relation with them. 
I may mention in this connection that I have 
had in my hands the earlier sheets of the Master 
of Ballantrae, the new novel he is about to con- 
tribute to Scribner, and have been reading 
them with breathless admiration. They are 
wonderfully fine and perfect he is a rare, 
delightful genius. 

I am sitting in our old family salon in this 
place, and have sat here much of the time 
for the last fortnight in sociable converse 
with family ghosts Father and Mother and 
Aunt Kate and our juvenile selves. I became 
conscious, suddenly, about Oct. 10th, that 
I wanted very much to get away from the 
stale dingy London, which I had not quitted, 
to speak of, for 15 months, and notably not 
all summer a detestable summer in England, 
of wet and cold. Alice, whom I went to see, 
on arriving at this conclusion, assured me she 
could perfectly dispense for a few weeks with 
my presence on English soil ; so I came straight 
here, where I have a sufficient, though not 
importunate sense of being in a foreign country, 
with a desired quietness for getting on with 



142 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

work. I have had 16 days of extraordinarily 
beautiful weather, full of autumn colour as 
vivid as yours at Chocorua, and with the 
Mt. Blanc range, perpetually visible, literally 
hanging, day after day, over the blue lake. I 
have treated myself, as I say, to the apart- 
ments, or a portion of them, in which we spent 
the winter of '59-'60, and in which nothing 
is changed save that the hotel seems to have 
gone down in the world a little, before the multi- 
plication of rivals a descent, however, which 
has the agrement of unimpaired cleanliness and 
applies apparently to the prices as well. It 
is very good and not at all dear. Geneva seems 
both duller and smarter a good deal bigger, 
yet emptier too. The Academy is now the 
University a large, winged building in the old 
public garden below the Treille. But all the 
old smells and tastes are here, and the sensation 
is pleasant. I expect in three or four days 
to go to Paris for about three weeks and back 
to London after that. I shall be very busy 
for the next three or four months with the 
long thing I am doing for the Atlantic and which 
is to run no less than 15 though in shorter 
instalments than my previous fictions ; so that 
I have no time for wanton travelling. But 
I enjoy the easier, lighter feeling of being out 
of England. I suppose if one lived in one of 
these countries one would take its problems 
to one's self, also, or be oppressed and darkened 
by them even as I am, more or less, by those 
which hang over me in London. But as it is, 
the Continent gives one a refreshing sense of 
getting away away from Whitechapel and Parnell 
and a hundred other constantly thickening heavi- 
nesses. ... It is always a great misfortune, I 
think, when one has reached a certain age, that if 
one is living in a country not one's own and one is 



. 45 TO WILLIAM JAMES 143 



of anything of an ironic or critical disposition, 
one mistakes the inevitable reflections and 
criticisms that one makes, more and more as 
one grows older, upon life and human nature 
etc., for a judgment of that particular country, 
its natives, peculiarities, etc., to which, really, 
one has grown exceedingly accustomed. For 
myself, at any rate, I am deadly weary of the 
whole " international " state of mind so that 
I ache, at times, with fatigue at the way it is 
constantly forced upon me as a sort of virtue 
or obligation. I can't look at the English- 
American world, or feel about them, any more, 
save as a big Anglo-Saxon total, destined to 
such an amount of melting together that an 
insistence on their differences becomes more 
and more idle and pedantic; and that melt- 
ing together will come the faster the more 
one takes it for granted and treats the life of 
the two countries as continuous or more or less 
convertible, or at any rate as simply different 
chapters of the same general subject. Litera- 
ture, fiction in particular, affords a magnificent 
arm for such taking for granted, and one may 
so do an excellent work with it. I have not 
the least hesitation in saying that I aspire to 
write in such a way that it would be impossible 
to an outsider to say whether I am at a given 
moment an American writing about England 
or an Englishman writing about America 
(dealing as I do with both countries,) and so 
far from being ashamed of such an ambiguity 
I should be exceedingly proud of it, for it would 
be highly civilized. You are right in surmising 
that it must often be a grief to me not to get 
more time for reading though not in supposing 
that I am " hollowed out inside " by the limita- 
tions my existence has too obstinately attached 
to that exercise, combined with the fact that 



144 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isss 

I produce a great deal. At times I do read 
almost as much as my wretched little stomach 
for it literally will allow, and on the whole I 
get much more time for it as the months and 
years go by. I touched bottom, in the way 
of missing time, during the first half of my 
long residence in London and traversed then 
a sandy desert, in that respect where, however, 
I took on board such an amount of human 
and social information that if the same necessary 
alternatives were presented to me again I should 
make the same choice. One can read when 
one is middle-aged or old ; but one can mingle 
in the world with fresh perceptions only when one 
is young. The great thing is to be saturated 
with something that is, in one way or another, 
with life ; and I chose the form of my satur- 
ation. Moreover you exaggerate the degree to 
which my writing takes it out of my mind, 
for I try to spend only the interest of my capital. 
I haven't told you how I found Alice when 
I last saw her. She is now in very good form- 
still going out, I hear from her, in the mild 
moments, and feeling very easy and even jolly 
about her Leamington winter. My being away 
is a sign of her really good symptoms. She 
was wiiihend after the London police, in con- 
nection with the Whitechapel murders, to a 
degree that almost constituted robust health. 
I have seen a great many (that is, more than 
usual) Frenchmen in London this year : they 
bring me notes of introduction and the other 
day, the night before coming away, I enter- 
tained at dinner (at a club,) the French 
Ambassador at Madrid (Paul Cambon), Xavier 
Charmes of the French Foreign Office, G. du 
Maurier, and the wonderful little Jusserand, the 
charge d'affaires in London, who is a great 
friend of mine, and to oblige and relieve whom 



AET. 45 TO WILLIAM JAMES 145 

it was that I invited the two other diplomatists, 
his friends, whom he had rather helplessly on 
his hands. THERE is the real difference a gulf 
from the English (or the American) to the 
Frenchman, and vice versa (still more) ; and 
not from the Englishman to the American. 
The Frenchmen I see all seem to me wonderful 
the first time but not so much, at all, the 
second. But I must finish this without having 
touched any of the sympathetic things I meant 
to say to you about your place, your work on 
it, Alice's prowesses as a country lady, the 
children's vie champetre, etc. Aunt Kate, after 
her visit to you, praised all these things to us 
with profusion and evident sincerity. I wish 
I could see them but the day seems far. I 
haven't lain on the ground for so many years 
that I feel as if I had spent them up in a balloon. 
Next summer I shall come here I mean to 
Switzerland, for which my taste has revived. 
I am full of gratulation on your enlarged classes, 
chances of reading, etc., and on your prospect 
of keeping the invalid child this winter. Give 
my tender love to Alice. You are entering 
the period of keen suspense about Cleveland, 
and I share it even here. I have lately begun 
to receive and read the Nation after a long 
interval and it seems to me very rough. Was 
it ever so ? ... Ever your affectionate 

HENRY JAMES. 



IV 

LATER LONDON YEARS 
(1889-1897) 

For the next five years, when once The Tragic 
Muse was off his hands, Henry James gave 
himself up with persevering determination to 
the writing of plays. He speaks very plainly, 
in his letters of the time, concerning the motives 
which urged him to the theatre, and there is 
no doubt that the chief of them was the desire 
for a kind of success which his fiction failed 
to achieve. He puts it simply that he wished 
to make money, that his books did not sell, 
and that he regarded the theatre solely as a 
much-needed pecuniary resource. But such 
belittling of his own motives out of a feeling 
that was partly pride and partly shyness 
was not unusual with him ; and it seems im- 
possible to take this language quite literally. 
For a man of letters with moderate tastes and no 
family, Henry James's circumstances were more 
than easy, even if his writings should earn him 
nothing at all ; and he had no reason to doubt 
that his future was sufficiently assured. More- 
over, though his work might have no great 
popular vogue it had had a measure of that 
too, at the time of Daisy Miller it still never 
wanted its own attentive circle ; so that he 

146 



1889 97 LATER LONDON YEARS 147 

had not to complain of the utter indifference 
that may wear upon the nerves of even the 
most disinterested artist. The sense of solitude 
that began to weigh upon him was perhaps 
more a matter of temperament than of fact ; 
it never for a moment meant that he had lost 
faith in himself and his powers, but there mingled 
with it his inveterate habit of forecasting the 
future in the most ominous light. As he looked 
forward, he saw the undoubted decline of his 
popularity carrying him further and further 
away from recognition and its rewards ; and 
the prospect, once the thought of it had taken 
root in his imagination, distressed and dismayed 
him. All would be righted, he felt, by the 
successful conquest of the theatre ; there lay 
the way, not only to solid gains, but to the 
reassurance of vaguer, less formulated anxieties. 
With such a tangible gage of having made his 
impression he would be relieved for ever from 
the fear of working in vain and alone. 

But from the moment when he began to 
write plays instead of novels, the task laid 
hold upon him with other attractions ; and it was 
these, no doubt, which kept him at it through 
so many troubles and disappointments. The 
dramatic form itself, in the first place, delighted 
and tormented him with its difficulty; the 
artistic riddle of lucidity in extreme compression, 
what he once characteristically described as the 
" passionate economy " of the play as he wrote 
it, appealed to him and drew him on to constantly 
renewed attempts. He admits that, but for 
this perpetual challenge to his ingenuity, he 
could never have supported the annoyances and 
irritations entailed by practical commerce with 
the theatre. And yet it is easy to see that 
these too had a certain fascination for him. 
He could not have been so eloquent in his 



148 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1889-9? 

denunciation of all theatrical conditions, the 
" saw-dust and orange-peel " of the trade, if 
he had not been en joy ably stimulated by them ; 
and indeed from his earliest youth his interest 
in the stage had been keenly professional. The 
Tragic Muse herself, outcome of innumerable 
sessions at the Theatre Frangais, shews how 
intently he had studied the art of acting not 
as a spectacle only, but as a business and a 
life. The world behind the theatrical scene, 
though in the end he broke away from it with 
relief, closely occupied his mind during these 
few years; and with his gift for turning all 
experience to imaginative account he could 
scarcely look back on it afterwards as time 
wasted, little as his heavy expenditure of spirit 
and toil had to shew for it. His hope of finding 
fame and fortune in this direction failed utterly 
and failed, which was much to the good, with 
clearness and precision at a given moment, 
so that he was able to make a clean cut and 
return at once to his right line. But he took 
with him treasures of observation lodged in a 
memory that to tfye end of his life always dwelt 
upon the theatre with a curious mixture of 
exasperation and delight. 

Of all the plays, seven or eight in number, 
that he wrote between 1889 and 1894, only 
two were actually seen upon the stage. The 
first of these was a dramatic version of The 
American, produced by Edward Compton (who 
played the principal part) at Southport in 
January 1891. The piece had a fairly successful 
provincial life, but it failed to make good its 
hold upon London, where it was given for the 
first time on September 26, 1891, at the Opera 
Comique, by the same company. It ran for 
about two months, after which it was seen no 
more in London, though it continued for some 



1889-97 LATER LONDON YEARS 149 

while longer to figure in Compton's provincial 
repertory. In its later life it was played 
with a re-written last act, in which, much 
against his will, Henry James conceded to 
popular taste a " happy ending " for his hero 
and heroine. The other and much more 
elaborate production was that of Guy Domville 
B,t the St. James's Theatre on January 5, 1895, 
with George Alexander and Miss Marion 
Terry in the chief parts. The story of this 
unfortunate venture is to be read in the letters 
that follow. The play (which has never been 
published) was enthusiastically received by the 
few and roughly rejected by the many ; it 
ran for exactly a month and then disappeared 
for good. It was the most ambitious, and 
no doubt the best, piece of dramatic work 
that Henry James had produced, and he im- 
mediately accepted its failure as the end, for 
the present, of his play-writing. The first night 
of Guy Domville had been marked by an inci- 
dent which wounded him so deeply that he 
could never afterwards bear the least reference 
to it ; after the fall of the curtain he had 
been exposed, apparently by a misunderstand- 
ing, to the hostility of the grosser part of 
the audience, and the affront, the shock to 
his sensitive taste, was extreme and enduring. 
There had been various plans and projects in 
connection with his other plays, but by this 
time they had all come to nothing. To the 
relief of those friends who knew what an intoler- 
able strain the whole agitated time had thrown 
upon his nerves, he went back to the work and 
the life which were so evidently the right scope 
for his genius. But before doing so he published 
four of his plays in two volumes of Theatricals 
(1894, 1895,) to the second of which he prefixed 
an introduction which sums up, with great 



150 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

candour and dignity, a part of the lesson he had 
learnt from his discouraging experience. 

Outside the theatre his life proceeded as 
usual, and his yearly visits to Paris or Italy 
are almost the only events to be recorded. He 
was in Paris in the autumn of 1889 and in Italy, 
chiefly at Florence and Venice, for the following 
summer. But both these centres of attraction 
were beginning to lose their hold on him a little, 
though for different reasons : Paris for something 
in its artistic self-sufficiency that he found 
increasingly unsympathetic and Italy as it 
became more and more a field of social claims, 
English and American, irresistible on the spot 
but destructive of quiet work. He began to 
feel the need of some settled country-home 
of his own in England, though for some years 
yet he took no practical steps to find one. He 
was in Paris again, early in 1891. At the end 
of the same year he was called to Dresden by 
the sudden death in hospital there of a gifted 
young American friend with whom he had 
latterly been much associated Wolcott Balestier, 
whose short but remarkable career, as a writer 
and still more as a " literary agent " for other 
writers (including Henry James), has been com- 
memorated by Mr. Gosse in his Portraits and 
Sketches. From this distressing excursion Henry 
James returned home to face another and 
greater sorrow which had begun to threaten 
him for some time past. For two years his 
sister had been growing steadily weaker ; she 
had moved to London, and lived near her 
brother in Kensington, but her seclusion was so 
rigid that only those who knew him well under- 
stood how great a part she played in his life. 
Her vigour of mind and imagination was as 
keen as ever, and though the number of people 
she was able to see and know in England was 



1889-97 LATER LONDON YEARS 151 

very small she lived ardently in the interest, 
highly critical for the most part, that she took 
in public affairs. Her death in March 1892 
meant for Henry James not only the end of 
a companionship that was very dear to him, 
but the breaking of the only family tie that he 
had had or was ever to have in England. So 
long as his sister was near him there was one 
person who shared his old memories and with 
whom he was in his own home ; and when 
it is recalled how intensely he always clung to 
his distant kindred, and what a sense of support 
he drew from them even in his long separation, 
it is possible to measure the loss that befell 
him now exactly at a time when such familiar 
and natural sympathy was most precious to him. 
He spent the summer of 1892 again in Italy, 
avoiding the tourist- stream by settling at Siena, 
after it had subsided, in the company of M. and 
Mme. Paul Bourget, by this time his intimate 
friends. William James and his family were 
now in Europe for a year of Switzerland and 
Italy, and Henry joined them at Lausanne on 
his way home. The next two years of London 
were given up, almost without intermission, to 
the hopes and anxieties of his theatrical affairs, 
in which he was now completely immersed so 
much so, indeed, as to test his very remark- 
able powers of physical endurance, which seem 
in middle life to have thrown off the early 
troubles of his health. When this time of 
fevered agitation was over he was able to 
compose himself at once to happier work, with- 
out apparently feeling even the need of a 
day's holiday. In 1893 he was in Paris in the 
spring, and again for a short while in Swit- 
zerland with his brother ; but these excursions 
were never real holidays he was quickly uneasy 
if he had not work of some kind on hand. 



152 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1 889 97 

He projected another summer in Italy for the 
following year, and spent it chiefly in Venice 
and Rome. This was the last of Italy, however, 
for some time ; there were too many friends 
everywhere " the most disastrous attempt I 
have ever made," he writes, " to come abroad for 
privacy and quiet." Still the only alternative 
seemed to be sea-side lodgings in England ; 
and for the summer of 1895, escaping from the 
London season as usual, he went to Torquay. 
By this time Guy Domville had failed and he 
was free again ; he had the happiest winter of 
work in London that he had known for five 
years. After finishing some short stories he 
began The Spoils of Poynton, and with it 
the series of his works that belong definitely 
to his " later manner." At last, in 1896, instead 
of his usual esplanade, he settled for a while 
upon an English country-side, making an acci- 
dental choice that was to prove momentous. 
He took a small house for the summer on the 
hill of Play den, in Sussex, where for the first 
time in his life, and after twenty years of England, 
he enjoyed a solitude of his own among trees 
and fields. From his terrace, where he sat 
under an ash-tree working at his novel, he 
looked across a wide valley to the beautiful old red- 
roofed town of Rye, climbing the opposite 
hill and crowned with its church-tower. The 
charm and tranquillity of the place were perfect, 
and when he had to give up the house at Playden 
he moved for the autumn into the old Rye 
vicarage. Exploring the steep cobbled streets 
round the church he came upon a singularly 
delightful old house, of the early eighteenth 
century, with a large walled garden behind 
it, which attracted him to the point of enquiring 
whether he might hope to possess it. There 
appeared to be no prospect of this ; but he 



1889-97 LATER LONDON YEARS 153 

went back to London with a vivid sense that 
Lamb House was exactly the place he needed, 
if it should ever fall to him. 

He had already finished The Spoils of Poynton 
and had immediately set to work on What 
Maisie Knew, deeply reconciled now to the 
indifference of the general public, which indeed 
became more and more confirmed. The only 
question by this time was whether London 
was any longer the right place for the deter- 
mined concentration upon fiction that he decided 
was to fill the rest of his life. The country 
would hardly have drawn him thither for its own 
sake ; there could not have been such a lack 
of it in his existence, for more than fifty 
years, if it had strongly appealed to him 
in itself. But London had long ago given 
him all it could, and his great desire now 
was for peace and quiet and freedom from 
interruption. In 1897, after a summer of the 
usual kind, at Bournemouth and Dunwich, he 
suddenly learned that a tenant was being sought 
for Lamb House, and he signed the lease 
within a few days. It was the most punctual and 
appropriate stroke of fortune that could have 
been devised. 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
April 29th, 1889. 

This is really dreadful news, my dear Louis, 
odious news to one who had neatly arranged 
that his coming August should be spent gobbling 
down your yarns by some garden-window of 
Skerryvore as the Neapolitan lazzarone puts 
away the lubricating filaments of the vermicelli. 
And yet, with my hideous capacity to under- 
stand it, I am strong enough, superior enough, 
to say anything, for conversation, later. It's 
in the light of unlimited conversation that 
I see the future years, and my honoured chair 
by the ingleside will require a succession of 
new cushions. I miss you shockingly for, my 
dear fellow, there is no one literally no one ; 
and I don't in the least follow you I can't 
go with you (I mean in conceptive faculty and 
the " realising sense,") and you are for the 
time absolutely as if you were dead to me 
I mean to my imagination of course not to 
my affection or my prayers. And so I shall 
keep humble that you may pump into me 
and make me stare and sigh and look simple 
and be quite out of it for ever and ever. It's 
the best thing that can happen to one to see 
it written in your very hand that you have 
been so uplifted in health and cheer, and if 
another year will screw you up so tight that 
you won't " come undone " again, I will try 

154 



A ET . 46 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 155 

and hold on through the barren months. I 
will go to Mrs. Sit well, to hear what has made 
you blush it must be something very radical. 
Your chieftains are dim to me why shouldn't 
they be when you yourself are ? Va for another 
year but don't stay away longer, for we should 
really, for self-defence, have to outlive [?] you. . . . 
1 myself do little but sit at home and write 
little tales and even long ones you shall see 
them when you come back. Nothing would 
induce me, by sending them to you, to expose 
myself to damaging Polynesian comparisons. 
For the rest, there is nothing in this land but 
the eternal Irish strife the place is all gashed 
and gory with it. I can't tell you of it I am 
too sick of it more than to say that two or 
three of the most interesting days I ever passed 
were lately in the crowded, throbbing, thrilling 
little court of the Special Commission, over 
the astounding drama of the forged Times 
letters. 

I have a hope, a dream, that your mother 
may be coming home and that one may go 
and drink deep of her narrations. But it's idle 
and improbable. A wonderful, beautiful letter 
from your wife to Colvin seemed, a few months 
ago, to make it clear that she has no quarrel 
with your wild and wayward life. I hope it 
agrees with her a little too I mean that it 
renews her youth and strength. It is a woeful 
time to wait for your prose as for your person 
especially as the prose can't be better though 
the person may. 

Your very faithful 

HENRY JAMES. 



156 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1889 



To William James. 

Hotel de Hollande, Paris. 

Nov. 28th, '89. 
My dear William, 

... I send you this from Paris, where 
I have been for the last five weeks. Toward 
the end I relented in regard to the exhibition 
and came over in time for the last fortnight 
of it. It was despoiled of its freshness and 
invaded by hordes of furious Franks and fiery 
Huns but it was a great impression and I'm 

flad I sacrificed to it. So I've remained on. 
go back Dec. 1st. It happens that I have 
been working very hard all this month almost 
harder than ever in my life before having 
on top of other pressing and unfinished tasks 
undertaken, for the bribe of large lucre, to 
translate Daudet's new Tartarin novel for the 
Harpers. ... I had a talk of one hour and a 
half with him the other day about " our 
work " (!!) and his own queer, deplorable con- 
dition, which he intensely converts into art, 
profession, success, copy, etc. taking per- 
petual notes about his constant suffering (terrible 
in degree,) which are to make a book called 
La Douleur, the most detailed and pessimistic 
notation of pain qui fut jamais. He is doing, 
in the midst of this, his new, gay, lovely 
" Tartarin " for the Harpers en premier lieu ; 
that is, they are to publish it serially with 
wonderfully " processed " drawings before it 
comes out as a book in France and I am to 
represent him, in English (a difficult, but with 
ingenuity a pleasant and amusing task,) while 
this serial period lasts. I have seen a good 
deal of Bourget, and as I have breakfasted 
with Coppee and twice dined in company with 



AET. 46 TO WILLIAM JAMES 157 

Meilhac, Sarcey, Albert Wolff, Goncourt, 
Ganderax, Blowitz, etc., you will judge that 
I am pretty well saturated and ought to have 
the last word about ces gens-ci. That last word 
hasn't a grain of subjection or of mystery left 
in it : it is simply, " Chinese, Chinese, Chinese ! " 
They are finished, besotted mandarins, and 
their Paris is their celestial Empire. With that, 
such a Paris as it sometimes seems ! Never- 
theless I've enjoyed it, and though I am very 
tired, too tired to write to you properly, I shall 
have been much refreshed by my stay here, 
and have taken aboard some light and heat 
for the black London winter. ... I hope that 
above house and college and life and every- 
thing you still hold up an undemented head, 
and are not in a seedy way. 

Ever your affectionate 

HENRY. 

To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Stevenson was now beginning to break to his friends 
at home the possibility that he might settle permanently 
in the South Seas ; but he still projected a preliminary 
visit to England, or at least to Europe. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

March 21st, 1890. 
My dear Louis and my dear Mrs. Louis, 

It comes over me with horror and shame 
that, within the next very few months, your 
return to England may become such a reality 
that I shall before long stand face to face with 
you branded with the almost blood-guilt of 
my long silence. Let me break that silence 
then, before the bliss of meeting you again 
(heaven speed the day) is qualified, in prospect, 
by the apprehension of your disdain. I despatch 
these incoherent words to Sydney, in the hope 



158 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1339 

they may catch you before you embark for 
our palpitating England. My despicable dumb- 
ness has been a vile accident I needn't assure 
you that it doesn't pretend to the smallest 
backbone of system or sense. I have simply 
had the busiest year of my life and have been 
so drained of the fluid of expression so tapped 
into the public pitcher that my whole corre- 
spondence has dried up and died of thirst. Then, 
somehow, you had become inaccessible to the 
mind as well as to the body, and I had the 
feeling that, in the midst of such desperate 
larks, any news of mine would be mere irrele- 
vant drivel to you. Now, however, you must 
take it, such as it is. It won't, of course, be 
news to you at all that the idea of your return 
has become altogether the question of the day. 
The other two questions (the eternal Irish and 
Rudyard Kipling) aren't in it. (We'll tell you 
all about Rudyard Kipling your nascent rival ; 
he has killed one immortal Rider Haggard ; 
the star of the hour, aged 24 and author of 
remarkable Anglo-Indian and extraordinarily 
observed barrack life Tommy Atkins tales.) 
What I am pledged to do at the present moment 
(pledged to Colvin) is to plead with you passion- 
ately on the question of Samoa and expatri- 
ation. But somehow, when it comes to the 
point, I can't do it partly because I can't 
really believe in anything so dreadful (a long 
howl of horror has gone up from all your friends), 
and partly because before any step so fatal 
is irretrievably taken we are to have a chance 
to see you and bind you with flowery chains. 
When you tell me with your own melodious 
lips that you're committed, I'll see what's to 
be done ; but I won't take a single plank of 
the house or a single hour of the flight for granted. 
Colvin has given me instantly all your recent 



AET. 46 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 

unspeakable news I mean the voyage to Samoa 
and everything preceding, and your mother 
has kindly communicated to me her own 
wonderful documents. Therefore my silence has 
been filled with sound sound infinitely fear- 
ful sometimes. But the joy of your health, 
my dear Louis, has been to me as an imparted 
sensation making me far more glad than any- 
thing that I could originate with myself. I 
shall never be as well as I am glad that you are 
well. We are poor tame, terrified products of 
the tailor and the parlour-maid ; but we have 
a fine sentiment or two, all the same. ... I, 
thank God, am in better form than when you 
first took ship. I have lately finished the 
longest and most careful novel I have ever 
written (it has gone 16 months in a periodical) 
and the last, in that form, I shall ever do it 
will come out as a book in May. Also other 
things too flat to be bawled through an 
Australasian tube. But the intensest throb of 
my literary life, as of that of many others, 
has been the Master of Ballantrae a pure 
hard crystal, my boy, a work of ineffable 
and exquisite art. It makes us all as proud 
of you as you can possibly be of it. Lead him 
on blushing, lead him back blooming, by the 
hand, dear Mrs. Louis, and we will talk over 
everything, as we used to lang syne at Skerry- 
vore. When we have talked over everything and 
when all your tales are told, then you may paddle 
back to Samoa. But we shall call time. My 
heartiest greeting to the young Lloyd grizzled, 
I fear, before his day. I have been very sorry 
to hear of your son-in-law's bad case. May 
all that tension be over now. 'Do receive this 
before you sail don't sail till you get it. But 
then bound straight across. I send a volume 
of the Rising Star to goad you all hither with 



160 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isoo 

jealousy. He has quite done for your neglected 
even though neglectful friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

April 28th, '90. 
My dear Louis, 

I didn't, for two reasons, answer your 
delightful letter, or rather exquisite note, from 
the Sydney Club, but I must thank you for it 
now, before the gulfs have washed you down, 
or at least have washed away from you all after- 
tastes of brineless things the stay-at-home works 
of lubberly friends. One of the reasons just 
mentioned was that I had written to you at 
Sydney (c/o the mystic Towns,) only a few 
days before your note arrived ; the other is 
that until a few days ago I hugged the soft 
illusion that by the time anything else would 
reach you, you would already have started 
for England. This fondest of hopes of all of 
us has been shattered in a manner to which 
history furnishes a parallel only in the behaviour 
of its most famous coquettes and courtesans. 
You are indeed the male Cleopatra or buc- 
caneering Pompadour of the Deep the wander- 
ing Wanton of the Pacific. You swim into 
our ken with every provocation and prospect 
and we have only time to open our arms to 
receive you when your immortal back is turned 
to us in the act of still more provoking flight. 
The moral is that we have to be virtuous whether 
we like it or no. Seriously, it was a real heart- 
break to have September substituted for June ; 
but I have a general faith in the fascinated 
providence who watches over you, to the 
neglect of all other human affairs I believe 



A ET . 47 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 161 

that even He has an idea that you know what 
you are about, and even what He is, though 
He by this time doesn't in the least know 
himself. Moreover I have selfish grounds of 
resignation in the fact that I shall be in England 
in September, whereas, to my almost intoler- 
able torment, I should probably not have been 
in June. Therefore when you come, if you 
ever do, which in my heart of hearts I doubt, 
I shall see you in all your strange exotic bloom, 
in all your paint and beads and feathers. May 
you grow a magnificent extra crop of all such 
things (as they will bring you a fortune here,) 
in this much grudged extra summer. Charming 
and delightful to me to see you with a palate 
for my plain domestic pudding, after all the 
wild cannibal smacks that you have learned 
to know. I think the better of the poor little 
study in the painfully-familiar, since hearing 
that it could bear such voyages and resist such 
tests. You have fed a presumption that vaguely 
stirs within me that of trying to get at you 
in June or July with a fearfully long-winded 
but very highly- finished novel which I am 
putting forth in (probably) the last days of May. 
If I were sure it would overtake you on some 
coral strand I shouldn't hesitate ; for, seri- 
ously and selfishly speaking, I can't (spiritu- 
ally) afford not to put the book under the eye 
of the sole and single Anglo-saxon capable of 
perceiving though he may care for little else 
in it how well it is written. So I shall probably 
cast it upon the waters and pray for it; as 
I suppose you are coming back to Sydney, 
it may meet you there, and you can read it 
on the voyage home. In that box you'll have 
to. I don't say it to bribe you in advance 
to unnatural tolerance but I have an im- 
pression that I didn't make copious or clear 



162 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i89 

to you in my last what a grand literary life 
your Master of B. has been leading here. Some- 
how, a miracle has been wrought for you (for 
you they are,) arid the fine old featherbed of 
English taste has thrilled with preternatural 
recognitions. The most unlikely number of 
people have discerned that the Master is " well 
written." It has had the highest success of 
honour that the English-reading public can now 
confer ; where it has failed (the success, save 
that it hasn't failed at all !) it has done so through 
the constitutional incapacity of the umpire 
infected, by vulgar intercourses, as with some 
unnameable disease. We have lost our status 
nous rfavons plus qualite to confer degrees. 
Nevertheless, last year you woke us up at night, 
for an hour and we scrambled down in our 
shirt and climbed a garden-wall and stole a 
laurel, which we have been brandishing ever 
since over your absent head. " I tell you this 
because I think Colvin (at least it was pro- 
bably he he is visibly better or else Mrs. 
Sitwell) mentioned to me the other day that 
you had asked in touching virginal ignorance 
for news of the fate of the book. Its " fate," 
my dear fellow, has been glittering glory 
simply : and I ween that is I hope you will 
find the glitter has chinked as well. I sent 
you a new Zola the other day at a venture : 
but I have no confidence that I gratified a curi- 
osity. I haven't read The Human Beast one 
knows him without that and I am told Zola's 
account of him is dull and imperfect. I would 
read anything new about him but this is old, 
old, old. I hope your pen, this summer, will 
cleave the deeps of art even as your prow, or 
your keel, or whatever 's the knowing name 
for it, furrows the Pacific flood. Into what 
strange and wondrous dyes you must be now 



AET. 47 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 163 

qualified to dip it ! Roast yourself, I beseech 
you, on the sharp spit of perfection, that you 
may give out your aromas and essences ! Tell 
your wife, please, to read between the lines of 
this, and between the words and the letters, 
all that I miss the occasion to write directly 
to her. I hope she has continued to distil, 
to your mother, the honey of those impres- 
sions of which a few months ago the latter lent me 
for a day or two a taste on its long yellow 
foolscap combs. They would make, they will 
make, of course, a deliciously sweet book. I 
hope Lloyd, whom I greet and bless, is living 
up to the height of his young privilege and 
secreting honey too, according to the mild 
discipline of the hive. There are lots of things 
more to tell you, no doubt, but if I go on they 
will all take the shape of questions, and that 
won't be fair. The supreme thing to say is 
Don't, oh don't, simply ruin our nerves and 
our tempers for the rest of life by not throwing 
the rope in September, to him who will, for 
once in his life, not muff his catch : 

H. J. 



To William James. 

The project guardedly referred to in this letter was that 
of writing a series of plays. He had already finished the 
dramatisation of The American. 

Hotel de la Ville, Milan. 

May 16th, 1890. 
My dear William, 

... I have been both very busy and 
very bent on getting away this year without 
fail, for a miracle, from the oppressive London 
season. I have justfaccomplished it ; I passed 
the St. Gotthard day before yesterday, and I 



164 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES ISQO 

hope to find it possible to remain absent till 
August 1st. After that I am ready to pay 
cheerfully and cheaply for my journey by 
staying quietly in town for August and Sep- 
tember, in the conditions in which you saw me 
last year. I shall take as much as possible 
of a holiday, for I have been working carefully, 
consecutively and unbrokenly for a very long 
time past turning out one thing (always 
" highly finished ") after another. However, I 
like to work, thank heaven, and at the end of a 
month's privation of it I sink into gloom and 
discomfort so that I shall probably not wholly 
" neglect my pen "... I hope you will have 
received promptly a copy of The Tragic Muse, 
though I am afraid I sent my list to the pub- 
lishers a little late. I don't in the least know, 
however, when the book is supposed to come 
out. I have no opinion or feeling about it now 
though I took long and patient and careful 
trouble (which no creature will recognise) with 
it at the time : too much, no doubt : for my 
mind is now a muddled, wearied blank on the 
subject. I have shed and ejected it it's void 
and dead and my feeling as to what may 
become of it is reduced to the sordid hope it 
will make a little money which it won't. . . . 
The matter you expressed a friendly hope about 
the success of, and which for all sorts of reasons 
I desire to be extremely secret, silent and mys- 
terious about I mean the enterprise I covertly 
mentioned to you as conceived by me with 
a religious and deliberate view of gain over a 
greater scale than the Book (my Books at least) 
can ever approach bringing in to me : this 
matter is on a good and promising footing, but 
it is too soon to say anything about it, save 
that I am embarked in it seriously and with 
rather remarkably good omens. By which I 



AET. 47 TO WILLIAM JAMES 165 

mean that it is not to depend on a single attempt, 
but on half a dozen of the most resolute and 
scientific character, which I find I am abundantly 
capable of making, but which, alas, in the light 
of this discovery, I become conscious that I 
ought to have made ten years ago. I was 
then discouraged all round, while a single word 
of encouragement would have made the differ- 
ence. Now it is late. But on the other hand the 
thing would have been then only an experiment 
more or less like another whereas now it's an 
absolute necessity, imposing itself without choice 
if I wish a loaf on the shelf for my old age. 
Fortunately as far as it's gone it announces itself 
well but I can't tell you yet how far that is. 
The only thing is to do a great lot. 

By the time this reaches you I suppose your 
wife and children will have gone to recline 
under the greenwood tree. I hope their gentle 
outlawry will be full of comfort for them. It's 
poor work to me writing about them without 
ever seeing them. But my interest in them 
is deep and large, and please never omit to 
give my great love to them : to Alice first in 
the lump, to be broken up and distributed by 
her. May you squeeze with a whole skin through 
the tight weeks of the last of the term may 
you live to rest and may you rest to live. I 
shall not, I think, soon again write to you so 
rarely as for the last year. This will be partly 
because The Tragic Muse is to be my last long 
novel. For the rest of my life I hope to do 
lots of short things with irresponsible spaces 
between. I see even a great future (ten years) 
of such. But they won't make money. Excuse 
(you probably rather will esteem) the sordid 
tone of your affectionate 

HENRY JAMES. 



166 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES ISGO 



To W. D. Howells. 

Hotel de la Ville, Milan. 

May 17th, 1890. 
My dear Howells, 

I have been not writing to you at a tre- 
mendous, an infamous rate, for a long time 
past ; but I should indeed be sunk in baseness 
if I were to keep this pace after what has just 
happened. For what has just happened is that 
I have been reading the Hazard of New Fortunes 
(I confess I should have liked to change the 
name for you,) and that it has filled me with 
communicable rapture. I remember that the 
last time I came to Italy (or almost,) I brought 
your Lemuel Barker, which had just come 
out, to read in the train, and let it divert an 
intense professional eye from the most clam- 
ourous beauties of the way writing to you 
afternoons from this very place, I think, all 
the good and all the wonder I thought of it. 
So I have a decent precedent for insisting to 
you, now, under circumstances exactly similar 
(save that the present book is a much bigger 
feat,) that, to my charmed and gratified sense, 
the Hazard is simply prodigious. ... I should 
think it would make you as happy as poor 
happiness will let us be, to turn off from one 
year to the other, and from a reservoir in daily 
domestic use, such a free, full, rich flood. In 
fact your reservoir deluges me, altogether, with 
surprise as well as other sorts of effusion ; by 
which I mean that though you do much to 
empty it you keep it remarkably full. I seem 
to myself, in comparison, to fill mine with a 
teaspoon and obtain but a trickle. However, 
I don't mean to compare myself with you or 
to compare you, in the particular case, with 



AET..47 TO W. D. HO WELLS 167 

anything but life. When I do that with the 
life you see and represent your faculty for 
representing it seems to me extraordinary and 
to shave the truth the general truth you aim 
at several degrees closer than anyone else be- 
gins to do. You are less big than Zola, but 
you are ever so much less clumsy and more 
really various, and moreover you and he don't 
see the same things you have a wholly differ- 
ent consciousness you see a totally different 
side of a different race. Man isn't at all one 
after all it takes so much of him to be American, 
to be French, &c. I won't even compare you 
with something I have a sort of dim stupid 
sense you might be and are not for I don't 
in the least know that you might be it, after 
all, or whether, if you were, you wouldn't 
cease to be that something you are which 
makes me write to you thus. We don't know 
what people might give us that they don't 
the only thing is to take them on what they do 
and to allow them absolutely and utterly their 
conditions. This alone, for the tastes, secures 
freedom of enjoyment. I apply the rule to 
you, and it represents a perfect triumph of 
appreciation ; because it makes me accept, 
largely, all your material from you an absolute 
gain when I consider that I should never take 
it from myself. I note certain things which 
make me wonder at your form and your fortune 
(e.g. as I have told you before the fatal 
colour in which they let you, because you live 
at home is it ? paint American life ; and 
the fact that there's a whole quarter of the 
heaven upon which, in the matter of composition, 
you seem consciously is it consciously ? to 
have turned your back ;) but these things have 
no relevancy whatever as grounds of dislike 
simply because you communicate so com- 



168 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1890 

pletely what you undertake to communicate. 
The novelist is a particular window, absolutely 
and of worth in so far as he is one ; and it's 
because you open so well and are hung so close 
over the street that I could hang out of it all 
day long. Your very value is that you choose 
your own street heaven forbid I should have 
to choose it for you. If I should say I mortally 
dislike the people who pass in it, I should seem 
to be taking on myself that intolerable responsi- 
bility of selection which it is exactly such 
a luxury to be relieved of. Indeed I'm con- 
vinced that no readers above the rank of an 
idiot this number is moderate, I admit really 
fail to take any view that is really shown them 
any gift (of subject) that's really given. The 
usual imbecility of the novel is that the show- 
ing and giving simply don't come off the 
reader never touches the subject and the subject 
never touches the reader ; the window is no 
window at all but only childish finta, like 
the ornaments of our beloved Italy. This is 
why, as a triumph of communication, I hold 
the Hazard so rare and strong. You com- 
municate in touches so close, so fine, so true, so 
droll, so frequent. I am writing too much (you 
will think me demented with chatter ;) so that 
I can't go into specifications of success. . . . 

I continue to scribble, though with relaxed 
continuity while abroad ; but I can't talk to 
you about it. One thing only is clear, that 
henceforth I must do, or half do, England in 
fiction as the place I see most today, and, 
in a sort of way, know best. I have at last 
more acquired notions of it, on the whole, 
than of any other world, and it will serve as 
well as any other. It has been growing dis- 
tincter that America fades from me, and as she 
never trusted me at best, I can trust her, for 



AET. 47 TO W. D. HOWELLS 169 

effect, no longer. Besides I can't be doing 
de chic, from here, when you, on the spot, are 
doing so brilliantly the vecu. . . . 



To Miss Alice James. 

The play which H. J. had given his sister to read was the 
dramatic version of The American. It had now been 
accepted for production by Edward Compton, who was to 
play the part of Christopher Newman. Some intentional 
and humorous exaggeration, it ought perhaps to be 
mentioned, enters into H. J.'s constant appeal for dis- 
creet silence in these matters. As for the projected ex- 
cursion with Mr. and Mrs. Curtis, he eventually went 
with them the whole way, and saw the Passion Play at 
Oberammergau. 

Palazzo Barbaro, Venice. 
June 6th [1890], 

Dearest Sister, 

I am ravished by your letter after read- 
ing the play (keep it locked up, safe and secret, 
though there are three or four copies in exis- 
tence) which makes me feel as if there had been 
a triumphant premiere and I had received 
overtures from every managerial quarter and 
had only to count my gold. At any rate I 
am delighted that you have been struck with 
it exactly as I have tried to strike, and that the 
pure practical character of the effort has worked 
its calculated spell upon you. For what encour- 
ages me in the whole business is that, as the 
piece stands, there is not, in its felicitous form, 
the ghost of a " fluke " or a mere chance : it 
is all " art " and an absolute address of means 
to the end the end, viz., of meeting exactly 
the immediate, actual, intense British condi- 
tions, both subjective and objective, and of 
acting in (to a minute, including entr'actes) 
2 hours and f . Ergo, I can do a dozen more 
infinitely better ; and I am excited to think 



170 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

how much, since the writing of this one piece 
has been an education to me, a little further 
experience will do for me. Also I am sus- 
tained by the sense, on the whole, that though 
really superior acting would help it immensely, 
yet mediocrity of handling (which is all, at the 
best, I am pretty sure, that it will get) won't 
and can't kill it, and that there may be even 
something sufficiently general and human about 
it, to make it (given its eminent actability) 
" keep the stage," even after any first vogue 
it may have had has passed away. That fate 
in the poverty-stricken condition of the English 
repertory would mean profit indeed, and an 
income to my descendants. But one mustn't 
talk of this kind of thing yet. However, since 
you have been already so deeply initiated, 
I think I will enclose (keep it sacredly for me) 
an admirable letter I have just received from 
the precious Balestier in whose hands, as I 
wrote you, I placed the settlement of the money- 
question, the terms of the writing agreement 
with Compton. Compton saw him on Monday 
last and I send the letter mainly to illustrate 
the capital intelligence and competence of 
Balestier and show you in what good hands 
I am. He will probably strike you, as he 
strikes me, as the perfection of an " agent " 
especially when you consider that he has under- 
taken this particular job out of pure friendship. 
Everything, evidently, will be well settled 
on the basis, of course, which can't be helped, 
of production in London only about the middle 
of next year. But by that time I hope to have 
done a good bit more work and I shall be 
beguiled by beginning to follow, in the autumn, 
the rehearsals for the country production. Keep 
Balestier's letter till I come back I shall get 
another one from him in a day or two with 



AET. 47 TO MISS ALICE JAMES 171 

the agreement to sign. . . . These castles in 
Spain are at least exhilarating : in a certain 
sense I should like you very much to communi- 
cate to William your good impression of the 
drama but on the whole I think you had 
better not, for the simple reason that it is very 
important it shouldn't be talked about (especi- 
ally so long) in advance and it wouldn't be 
safe, inasmuch as every whisper gets into the 
papers and in some fearfully vulgarized and 
perverted form. You might hint to William 
that you have read the piece under seal of 
secresy to me and think so-and-so of it but 
are so bound (to me) not to give a sign that 
he must bury what you tell him in tenfold 
mystery. But I doubt if even this would be 
secure it would be in the Transcript the 
next week. 

Venice continues adorable and the Curtises the 
soul of benevolence. Their upstairs apartment 
(empty and still unoffered at forty pounds a year 
to any one but me) beckons me so, as a foot-on- 
the- water here, that if my dramatic ship had be- 
gun to come in, I should probably be tempted to 
take it at a venture for all it would matter. 
But for the present I resist perfectly especi- 
ally as Venice isn't all advantageous. The great 
charm of such an idea is the having, in Italy, 
a little cheap and private refuge independent 
of hotels etc., which every year grow more 
disagreeable and German and tiresome to face 
not to say dearer too. But it won't be for this 
year and the Curtises won't let it. What Pen 
Browning has done here . . . with the splendid 
Palazzo Rezzonico, transcends description for 
the beauty, and, as Ruskin would say, " wisdom 
and rightness '' of it. It is altogether royal 
and imperial but " Pen " isn't kingly and the 
train de vie remains to be seen. Gondoliers 



172 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1890 

ushering in friends from pensions won't fill 
it out. ... I am thinking, after all, of join- 
ing the Curtises in the evidently most beautiful 
drive (of upwards of a week, with rests) they 
are starting upon on the 14th, from a place 
called Vittorio, in the Venetian Alps, two hours 
rail from here, through Cadore, Titian's country, 
the Dolomites etc., toward Oberammergau. 
They offer me pressingly the fourth seat in the 
carriage that awaits them when they leave 
the train and also an extra ticket they have 
taken for the play at Oberammergau, if I choose 
to go so far. This I shall scarcely do, but I 
shall probably leave with them, drive 4 or 5 
days and come back, via Verona, by rail 
leaving my luggage here. Continue to address 
here unless, before that, I give you one other 
address while I am gone. I shall find all letters 
here, on my return, if I do go, in the keeping 
of the excellent maestro di casa the Venetian 
Smith. I should be back, at the latest, by 
the 25th probably by the 20th. In this case 
I shall presumably go back to Florence to spend 
4 or 5 days with Baldwin (going to Siena or 
Perugia ;) after which I have a dream of going 
to Vallombrosa (nearly 4000 feet above the 
sea but of a softness !) for 2 or 3 weeks till 
I have to leave Italy on my way home. I am 
writing to Edith Peruzzi, who has got a summer- 
lodge there, and is already there, for informa- 
tion about the inn. If I don't go there I shall 
perhaps try Camaldoli or San Marcello all high 
in the violet Apennines, within 3 or 4 hours, 
and mainly by a little carriage, of Florence. 
But I want to compass Vallombrosa, which 
I have never seen and have always dreamed 
of and which I am assured is divine infinitely 
salubrious and softly cool. The idea of linger- 
ing in Italy a few weeks longer on these terms 



AST. 47 TO MISS ALICE JAMES 173 

is very delightful to me it does me, as yet, 
nothing but good. But I shall see. I put B.'s 
letter in another envelope. I rejoiced in your 
eight gallops ; they may be the dozen now. 

Ever your HENRY. 



To William James. 

Paradisino, Vallombrosa, Tuscany. 

July 23rd, 1890. 
My dear Brother, 

I had from you some ten days ago a 
most delightful letter written just after the 
heroic perusal of my interminable novel which, 
according to your request, I sent off almost 
toa precipitately to Alice, so that I haven't 
it here to refer to. But I don't need to "refer" 
to it, inasmuch as it has plunged me into a glow 
of satisfaction which is far, as yet, from having 
faded. I can only thank you tenderly for 
seeing so much good in the clumsy thing as 
I thanked your Alice, who wrote me a most 
lovely letter, a week or two ago. I have no 
illusions of any kind about the book, and least 
of all about its circulation and " popularity." 
From these things I am quite divorced and 
never was happier than since the dissolution 
has been consecrated by (what seems to me) 
the highest authorities. One must go one's 
way and know what one's about and have a 
general plan and a private religion in short 
have made up one's mind as to ce qui en est 
with a public the draggling after which simply 
leads one in the gutter. One has always a 
" public " enough if one has an audible vibra- 
tion even if it should only come from one's 
self. I shall never make my fortune nor any- 
thing like it ; but I know what I shall do, 



174 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isoo 

and it won't be bad. I am lingering on late 
in Italy, as you see, so as to keep away from 
London till August 1st or thereabouts. (I stay 
in this exquisite spot till that date.) I shall 
then, returning to my normal occupations, have 
had the best and clearest and pleasantest holiday 
of three months, that I have had for many a 
day. I have been accompanied on this occasion 
by a literary irresponsibility which has caused 
me to enjoy Italy perhaps more than ever before ; 
let alone that I have never before been perched 
(more than three thousand feet in the air) in 
so perfect a paradise as this unspeakable Vallom- 
brosa. It is Milton's Vallombrosa, the original 
of his famous line, the site of the old mountain 
monastery which he visited and which stands 
still a few hundred feet below me as I write, 
" suppressed " and appropriated some time ago 
by the Italian Government, who have con- 
verted it to the State school of " Forestry." 
This little inn the Paradisino, as it is called, 
on a pedestal of rock overhanging the violet 
abysses like the prow of a ship, is the Hermitage 
(a very comfortable one) of the old convent. 
The place is extraordinarily beautiful and 
" sympathetic," the most romantic mountains 
and most admirable woods - - chestnut and 
beech and magnificent pine-forests, the densest, 
coolest shade, the freshest, sweetest air and 
the most enchanting views. It is full 20 years 
since I have done anything like so much wander- 
ing through dusky woods and lying with a 
book on warm, breezy hillsides. It has given 
me a sense of summer which I had lost in so 
many London Julys ; given me almost the 
summer of one's childhood back again. I shall 
certainly come back here for other Julys and 
other Augusts and I hate to]fgo]faway now. 
May you, and all of you, these weeks, have as 



AET. 47 TO WILLIAM JAMES 175 

sweet, or half as sweet, an impression of the 
natural universe as yours affectionately, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Edmund Gosse. 

The " ordeal " was the first night of The American, 
produced by Edward Compton and his company at 
Southport in anticipation of its eventual appearance in 
London. 

Prince of Wales Hotel, 
Southport. 

Jan 3rd [1891]. 
My dear Gosse, 

I am touched by your petit mot. De 
gros mots seem to me to be so much more appli- 
cable to my fallen state. The only thing that 
can be said for it is that it is not so low as it 
may perhaps be to-morrow after the vulgar 
ordeal of to-night. Let me therefore profit by 
the few remaining hours of a recognizable status 
to pretend to an affectionate reciprocity. I am 
yours and your wife's while yet I may be. 
After 11 o'clock to-night I may be the world's 
you know and I may be the undertaker's. 
I count upon you both to spend this evening 
in fasting, silence and supplication. I will send 
you a word in the morning wire you if I can 
if there is anything at all to boast of. My 
hopes rest solely on intrinsic charms the adven- 
titious graces of art are not " in it." I am so 
nervous that I miswrite and misspell. Pity 
your infatuated but not presumptuous friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. It would have been delightful and 
terrible if you had been able to come. I 
believe Archer is to come. 



176 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES im 

P.P.S. I don't return straight to London 
don't get there till Tuesday or Wednesday. I 
shall have to wait and telegraph you which 
evening I can come in. 

To Mrs. Hugh Bell. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Jan. 8th [1891]. 
Dear Mrs Bell, 

Your most kind gratulatory note deserved 
an answer more gratefully prompt than this. 
But I extended my absence from town to a 
short visit at Cheltenham, and the whole thing 
was virtually, till yesterday, a complete ex- 
tinction of leisure. Delightful of you to want 
" details." I think, if I were to inflict them 
on you, they would all be illustrative of the 
cheering and rewarding side of our feverish 
profession. The passage from knock-kneed ner- 
vousness (the night of the premiere, as one 
clings, in the wing, to the curtain rod, as to the 
pied des autels) to a simmering serenity is especi- 
ally life-saving in its effect. I flung myself 
upon Compton after the 1st act : "In heaven's 
name, is it going ? " " Going ? Rather ! You 
could hear a pin drop ! ' : Then, after that, 
one felt it one heard it one blessed it and, 
at the end of all, one (after a decent and discreet 
delay) simpered and gave oneself up to cour- 
bettes before the curtain, while the applausive 
house emitted agreeable sounds from a kind 
of gas-flaring indistinguishable dimness and the 
gratified Compton publicly pressed one's hand 
and one felt that, really, as far as Southport 
could testify to the circumstance, the stake 
was won. Of course it's only Southport but I 
have larger hopes, inasmuch as it was just the 
meagre provincial conditions and the limited 



A ET . 47 TO MRS. HUGH BELL 177 

provincial interpretation that deprived the per- 
formance of all adventitious aid. And when 
my hero and heroine and another friend supped 
with me at the inn after the battle, I felt that 
they were really as radiant as if we were carousing 
among the slain. They seem indeed wondrous 
content. The great feature of the evening was 
the way Compton " came out " beyond what 
he had done or promised at rehearsal, and acted 
really most interestingly and admirably if not 
a ' revelation ): at any rate a very jolly sur- 
prise. His part is one in which I surmise he 
really counts upon making a large success 
and though I say it who shouldn't, it is one 
of incontestable opportunities. However, all 
this is to come and we stumble in judgment. 
Amen. Voila, ma chere amie. You have been 
through all this, and more, and will tolerate 
my ingenuities. . . . 

All merriment to your " full house." 
Yours most truly, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

January 12th, 1891. 
My dear Louis, 

I have owed you a letter too shame- 
fully long and now that I have taken my pen 
in hand, as we used to say, I feel how much 
I burn to communicate with you. As your 
magnanimity will probably have forgotten how 
long ago it was that you addressed me, from 
Sydney, the tragic statement of your permanent 
secession I won't remind you of so detested a 
date. That statement, indeed, smote me to 
the silence I have so long preserved : I couldn't 
I didn't protest ; I even mechanically and 



178 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i89i 

grimly assented ; but I couldn't talk about it 
even to you and your wife. Missing you is 
always a perpetual ache and aches are dis- 
qualifying for gymnastic feats. In short we 
forgive you (the Muses and the soft Passions 
forgive us !) but we can't quite treat you as 
if we did. However, all this while I have many 
things to thank you for. In the first place 
for Lloyd. He was delightful, we loved him 
nous nous 1'arrachames. He is a most sym- 
pathetic youth, and we revelled in his rich 
conversation and exclaimed on his courtly 
manners. How vulgar you'll think us all when 
you come back (there is malice in that " when.") 
Then for the beautiful strange things you sent 
me and which make for ever in my sky-parlour 
a sort of dim rumble as of the Pacific surf. My 
heart beats over them my imagination throbs 
my eyes fill. I have covered a blank wall 
of my bedroom with an acre of painted cloth 
and feel as if I lived in a Samoan tent and 
I have placed the sad sepia- drawing just where, 
50 times a day, it most transports and reminds 
me. To-day what I am grateful for is your 
new ballad-book, which has just reached me 
by your command. I have had time only to 
read the first few things but I shall absorb 
the rest and give you my impression of them 
before I close this. As I turn the pages I seem 
to see that they are full of charm and of your 
" Protean " imaginative life but above all of 
your terrible far-off-ness. My state of mind about 
that is of the strangest a sort of delight at 
having you poised there in the inconceivable; 
and a miserable feeling, at the same time, that 
I am in too wretched a back seat to assist pro- 
perly at the performance. I don't want to 
lose any of your vibrations ; and, as it is, I 
feel that I only catch a few of them and that 



AET. 47 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 179 

is a constant woe. I read with unrestrictive 
relish the first chapters of your prose volume 
(kindly vouchsafed me in the little copyright- 
catching red volume,) and I loved 'em and 
blessed them quite. But I did make one re- 
striction I missed the visible in them I mean 
as regards people, things, objects, faces, bodies, 
costumes, features, gestures, manners, the intro- 
ductory, the personal painter-touch. It struck 
me that you either didn't feel through some 
accident your responsibility on this article 
quite enough ; or, on some theory of your own, 
had declined it. No theory is kind to us that 
cheats us of seeing. However, no doubt we 
shall rub our eyes for satiety before we have 
done. Of course the pictures Lloyd's blessed 
photographs y sont pour beaucoup ; but I 
wanted more the note of portraiture. Doubt- 
less I am greedy but one is when one dines 
at the Maison d'or. I have an idea you take 
but a qualified interest in " Beau Austin " 
or I should tell you how religiously I was present 
at that memorable premiere. Lloyd and your 
wonderful and delightful mother will have given 
you the agreeable facts of the occasion. I 
found it not the occasion, so much, but the 
work full of quality, and stamped with a charm ; 
but on the other hand seeming to shrug its 
shoulders a little too much at scenic precau- 
tions. I have an idea, however, you don't 
care about the matter, and I won't bore you 
with it further than to say that the piece has 
been repeatedly played, that it has been the 
only honourable affair transacted dans notre 
sale tripot for many a day and that Wm. Archer 
en raffole periodically in the " World." Don't 
despise me too much if I confess that anM 
io son pittore. Je fais aussi du theatre, moi ; 
and am doing it, to begin with, for reasons 



180 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isoi 

too numerous to burden you with, but all 
excellent and practical. In the provinces I 
had the other night, at Southport, Lancashire, 
with the dramatization of an early novel 
The American a success dont je rougis encore. 
This thing is to be played in London only after 
several months and to make the tour of the 
British Islands first. Don't be hard on me 
simplifying and chastening necessity has laid 
its brutal hand on me and I have had to try 
to make somehow or other the money I don't 
make by literature. My books don't sell, and 
it looks as if my plays might. Therefore I 
am going with a brazen front to write half a 
dozen. I have, in fact, already written two 
others than the one just performed ; and the 
success of the latter pronounced really pro- 
nounced will probably precipitate them. I am 
glad for all this that you are not here. Litera- 
ture is out of it. I miss no occasion of talking 
of you. Colvin I tolerably often see : I expect 
to do so for instance to-night, at a decidedly 
too starched dining-club to which we both belong, 
of which Lord Coleridge is president and too 
many persons of the type of Sir Theodore Martin 
are members. Happy islanders with no Sir 
Theodore Martin. On Mrs Sitwell I called the 
other day, in a charming new habitat : all 
clean paint and fresh chintz. We always go 
on at a great rate about you celebrate rites 
as faithful as the early Christians in the cata- 
combs. . . . 

January 13th. I met Colvin last night, after 
writing the above in the company of Sir James 
Stephen, Sir Theo. Martin, Sir Douglas Galton, 
Sir James Paget, Sir Alfred Lyall, Canon Ainger, 
and George du Maurier. How this will make 
you lick your chops over Ori and Rahiro and 
Tamatia and Taheia or whatever ces messieurs 



. 47 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 181 

et ces dames, your present visiting list, are 
called. He told me of a copious diary-letter 
he has just got from you, bless you, and we are 
discussing a day on which I shall soon come to 
meat or drink with him and listen to the same. 
Since yesterday I have also read the ballad 
book with the admiration that I always feel 
as a helplessly verseless creature (it's a senti- 
ment worth nothing as a testimony) for all 
performances in rhyme and metre especially 
on the part of producers of fine prose. 

January 19th. I stopped this more than 
a week ago, and since then I have lacked time 
to go on with it having been out of town for 
several days on a base theatrical errand to 
see my tribute to the vulgarest of the muses 
a little further on its way over the provincial 
circuit and re-rehearse two or three portions 
of it that want more effective playing. Thank 
heaven I shall have now no more direct contact 
with it till it is produced in London next October. 
I broke off in the act of speaking to you about 
your ballad-book. The production of ringing 
and lilting verse (by a superior proser) always 
does bribe me a little and I envy you in that 
degree yours ; but apart from this I grudge 
your writing the like of these ballads. They 
show your " cleverness," but they don't show 
your genius. I should say more if it were not 
odious to a man of my refinement to write 
to you so expectantly far away in remon- 
strance. I don't find, either, that the cannibalism, 
the savagery se prete, as it were one wants 
either less of it, on the ground of suggestion 
or more, on the ground of statement ; and 
one wants more of the high impeccable (as 
distinguished from the awfully jolly,) on the 
ground of poetry. Behold I am launching across 
the black seas a page that may turn nasty 



182 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isoi 

but, my dear Louis, it's only because I love 
so your divine prose and want the comfort 
of it. Things are various because we do 'em. 
We mustn't do 'em because they're various. 
The only news in literature here such is the 
virtuous vacancy of our consciousness con- 
tinues to be the infant monster of a Kipling. 
I enclose, in this, for your entertainment a few 
pages I have lately written about him, to serve 
as the preface to an (of course authorized) 
American recueil of some of his tales. I may 
add that he has just put forth his longest story 
yet a thing in Lippincott which I also send 
you herewith which cuts the ground some- 
what from under my feet, inasmuch as I find 
it the most youthfully infirm of his produc- 
tions (in spite of great " life,") much wanting 
in composition and in narrative and explica- 
tive, or even implicative, art. 

Please tell your wife, with my love, that all 
this is constantly addressed to her also. I 
try to see you all, in what I fear is your absence 
of habits, as you live, grouped around what 
I also fear is in no sense the domestic hearth. 
Where do you go when you want to be " cosy " ? 
or what at least do you do ? You think 
a little, I hope, of the faithful forsaken on whose 
powers of evocation, as well as of attachment, 
you impose such a strain. I wish I could send 
a man from Fortnum and Mason's out to you 
with a chunk of mortadella. I am trying to 
do a series of " short things " and will send 
you the least bad. I mean to write to Lloyd. 
Please congratulate your heroic mother for me 
very cordially when she leaps upon your strand, 
and believe that I hold you all in the tenderest 
remembrance of yours ever, my dear Louis, 

HENRY JAMES. 



. 47 TO WILLIAM JAMES 183 



To William James. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Feb. 6th, 1891. 
My dear William, 

Bear with me that I haven't written 
to you, since my last, in which I promised you 
a better immediate sequel, till the receipt of 
your note of the 21st, this a.m., recalls me to 
decency. Bear with me indeed, in this and 
other ways, so long as I am in the fever of dra- 
matic production with which I am, very sanely 
and practically, trying to make up for my late 
start and all the years during which I have 
not dramatically produced, and, further, to get 
well ahead with the " demand " which I 
and others for me judge (still very sanely 
and sensibly) to be certain to be made upon 
me from the moment I have a London, as dis- 
tinguished from a provincial success. (You can 
form no idea outside of how a provincial 
success is confined to the provinces.) Now that 
I have tasted blood, c'est une rage (of deter- 
mination to do, and triumph, on my part,) 
for I feel at last as if I had found my real form, 
which I am capable of carrying far, and for 
which the pale little art of fiction, as I have 
practised it, has been, for me, but a limited 
and restricted substitute. The strange thing 
is that I always, universally, knew this was 
my more characteristic form but was kept 
away from it by a half-modest, half-exagger- 
ated sense of the difficulty (that is, I mean the 
practical odiousness) of the conditions. But 
now that I have accepted them and met them, 
I see that one isn't at all, needfully, their victim, 
but is, from the moment one is anything, one's 
self, worth speaking of, their master ; and may 



184 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES im 

use them, command them, squeeze them, lift 
them up and better them. As for the form 
itself, its honour and inspiration are (a defaut 
d'autres) in its difficulty. If it were easy to 
write a good play I couldn't and wouldn't think 
of it ; but it is in fact damnably hard (to this 
truth the paucity of the article in the English- 
speaking world testifies,) and that constitutes 
a solid respectability guarantees one's intel- 
lectual self-respect. At any rate I am working 
hard and constantly and am just attacking 
my 4th ! . . . 

No. 4 has a destination which it would be 
premature to disclose ; and, in general, please 
breathe no word of these confidences, as pub- 
licity blows on such matters in an injurious 
and deflowering way, and interests too great 
to be hurt are at stake. I make them, the 
confidences, because it isn't fair to myself not 
to let you know that I may be absorbed for 
some months to come as long as my present 
fit of the " rage " lasts to a degree which 
may be apparent in my correspondence I mean 
in its intermittence and in my apparent lapse 
of attention to, or appreciation of, other things. 
For instance, I blush to say that I haven't 
had freedom of mind or cerebral freshness (I 
find the drama much more obsedant than the 
novel) to tackle more than dipping in just 
here and there your mighty and magnificent 
book, which requires a stretch of leisure and 
an absence of "crisis" in one's own egotistical 
little existence. As this is essentially a year 
of crisis, or of epoch-making, for me, I shall 
probably save up the great volumes till I can 
recline upon roses, the fruits of my production 
fever, and imbibe them like sips of sherbet, 
giving meanwhile all my cerebration to the 
condensation of masterpieces. . . . 



AET. 47 TO WILLIAM JAMES 185 

Farewell, dear William, and bear with my 
sawdust and orange-peel phase till the returns 
begin to flow in. The only hitch in the prospect 
is that it takes so long to " realise." The Ameri- 
can, in the country, played only on Friday 
nights, with the very low country prices, gives 
me nothing as yet to speak of my royalty 
making only about 5-0-0 for each perform- 
ance. Later all this may be thoroughly counted 

upon to be different. 

Ever your 

HENRY. 

To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Feb. 18th, 1891. 
My dear Louis, 

Your letter of December 29th is a most 
touching appeal ; I am glad my own last had been 
posted to you 2 or 3 weeks before it reached 
me. Whether mine has or will have been 
guided to your coral strand is a matter as to 
which your disclosures touching the state of 
the Samoan post inspire me with the worst 
apprehensions. At any rate I did despatch 
you supposedly via San Francisco a really 
pretty long screed about a month ago. I ought 
to write to you all the while ; but though I 
seem to myself to live with my pen in my hand 
I achieve nothing capable of connecting me 
so with glory. I am going to Paris to-morrow 
morning for a month, but I have vowed that 
I will miss my train sooner than depart with- 
out scrawling you and your wife a few words 
to-night. I shall probably see little or nothing 
there that will interest you much (or even 
interest myself hugely ) but having neither a 
yacht, an island, an. heroic nature, a gallant 
wife, mother and son, nor a sea-stomach, I 



186 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isoi 

have to seek adventure in the humblest forms. 
In writing the other day I told you more or 
less what I was doing am doing in these 
elderly days ; and the same general descrip- 
tion will serve. I am doing what I can to 
launch myself in the dramatic direction and 
the strange part of the matter is that I am 
doing it more or less seriously, as if we had 
the Scene Anglaise which we haven't. And 
I secretly dream of supplying the vile want ? 
Pas meme and my zeal in the affair is only 
matched by my indifference. What is serious 
in it is that having begun to work in this sense 
some months ago, to give my little ones bread 
I find the form opens out before me as if there 
were a kingdom to conquer a kingdom for- 
sooth of ignorant brutes of managers and dense 
cabotins of actors. All the same, I feel as if I 
had at last found my form my real one that 
for which pale fiction is an ineffectual substi- 
tute. God grant this unholy truth may not 
abide with me more than two or three years 
time to dig out eight or ten rounded master- 
pieces and make withal enough money to enable 
me to retire in peace and plenty for the un- 
molested business of a little supreme writing, 
as distinguished from gouging which is the 
Form above-mentioned. Your loneliness and 
your foodlessness, my dear Louis, bring tears 
to my eyes. If there were only a parcels' post 
to Samoa I would set Fortnum and Mason to 
work at you at this end of the line. But if 
they intercept the hieroglyphics at Sydney, what 
would they do to the sausage ? Surely there 
is some cure for your emptiness ; if nothing 
else, why not coming away ? Don't eat up 
Mrs Louis, whatever you do. You are precious 
to literature but she is precious to the affec- 
tions, which are larger, yet in a still worse way. 



AET. 47 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 187 

... I shall certainly do my utmost to get 
to Egypt to see you, if, as is hinted to me by 
dear Colvin, you turn up there after the fitful 
fever of Samoa. Your being there would give 
me wings especially if plays should give me 
gold. This is an exquisitely blissful dream. 
Don't fail to do your part of it. I almost joy 
in your lack of the Tragic Muse ; as proving 
to me, I mean, that you are curious enough 
to have missed it. Nevertheless I have just 
posted to you, registered, the first copy I have 
received of the 1 vol. edition ; but this moment 
out. I wanted to send you the three volumes 
by Lloyd, but he seemed clear you would have 
received it, and I didn't insist, as I knew he 
was charged with innumerable parcels and bales. 
I will presently send another Muse, and one, 
at least, must reach you. . . . Colvin is really 
better, I think if any one can be better who 
is so absolutely good. I hope to God my last 
long letter will have reached you. I promise 
to write soon again. I enfold you all in my 
sympathy and am ever your faithfullest 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Charles Eliot Norton. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Aug. 28th, 1891. 
My dear Charles, 

It is only the conspiracy of hindrances 
so perpetually characteristic of life in this place, 
even when it is theoretically not alive, as in 
the mid-August, that has stayed my hand, 
for days past, when it has most longed to write 
to you. Dear Lowell's death the words are 
almost as difficult as they are odious to write 
has made me think almost as much of you as 
of him. I imagine that you are the person 



188 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES mi 

in the world to whom it makes the most com- 
plete and constant difference that he is no 
longer here ; just as you must have been the 
one most closely associated with the too vain 
watching of his last struggle with the monster. 
It is a dim satisfaction to me, therefore, to say 
to you how fond I was of him and how I shall 
miss him and miss him and miss him. During 
these last strange English years of his life (it 
would take me long to tell you why I call them 
strange,) I had seen a great deal of him, and 
all with the effect of confirming my affection 
for him. London is bestrewn, to my sense, 
with reminders of his happy career here, and 
his company and his talk. He was kind and 
delightful and gratifying to me, and all sorts 
of occasions in which he will ever be vivid 
swarm before me as I think of him. . . . 
Strange was his double existence the American 
and the English sides of his medal, which had yet 
so much in common. That is, I don't know how 
English he was at home, but he was conspicu- 
ously American here. However, I am not try- 
ing to characterize him, to you least of all who 
had known him well so much longer and seen 
all, or most, of the chapters of his history ; 
but only letting you see how much I wish we 
might talk of him together. Some day we 
will, though it's a date that seems unfixable 
now. I am taking for granted . . . that you 
inherit the greatest of literary responsibilities 
to his memory. I think of this as a very high 
interest, but also a very arduous labour. It's 
a blessing, however, to feel that such an office 
is in such hands as yours. The posthumous 
vulgarities of our day add another grimness 
to death. Here again is another matter as 
to which I really miss not having the oppor- 
tunity to talk with you. This is a brief com- 



A ET . 48 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 189 

munication, my dear Charles, for I am literally 
catching a train. I go down to the Isle of 
Wight half an hour hence. . . . 

To Edmund Gosse. 

This refers to the recent production of The American in 
London. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
October 2nd [1891]. 

My dear Gosse, 

Your good and charming letter should 
have been answered on the spot but my days 
are abnormal and perspective and relation are 
blurred. I shall come to see you the moment 
you return, and then I shall be able to tell you 
more in five minutes than in fifteen of such 
hurried scrawls as this. Meanwhile many thanks 
for your sympathy and curiosity and suspense 
all thanks, indeed and, in return, all eagerness 
for your rentree here. My own suspense has 
been and still is great though the voices of 
the air, rightly heard, seem to whisper pros- 
perity. The papers have been on the whole 
quite awful but the audiences are altogether 
different. The only thing is that these first three 
or four weeks must be up-hill : London is still 
empty, the whole enterprise is wholly new 
the elements must assemble. The strain, the 
anxiety, the peculiar form and colour of such 
an ordeal (not to be divined the least in advance) 
have sickened me to death but I am getting 
better. I forecast nothing, however I only 
wait. Come back and wait with me it will 
be easier. Your picture of your existence and 
circumstance is like the flicker of the open door 
of heaven to those recumbent in the purgatory 
of yours not yet damned ah no ! 

HENRY JAMES. 



190 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i89i 



To Mrs. Mahlon Sands. 

Hotel de PEurope, 

Dresden. 
Dec. 12th [1891]. 
Dear Mrs. Sands, 

Just a word in answer to your note 
of sympathy to say that I am working through 
my dreary errand and service here as smoothly 
as three stricken women a mother and two 
sisters permit. They are however very tem- 
perate and discreet and one of the sisters 
a little person of extraordinary capacity who 
will float them all successfully home. Wolcott 
Balestier, the young American friend beside 
whose grave I stood with but three or four 
others here on Thursday, was a very remarkable 
creature who had been living in London for 
some three years he had an intimate business- 
relation with literature and was on the way 
to have a really artistic and creative one. 
He had made himself a peculiar international 
place which it would take long to describe, 
and was full of capacities, possibilities and 
really big inventions and ideas. He had ren- 
dered me admirable services, become in a manner 
a part of my life, and I was exceedingly attached 
to him. And now, at 30, he dies in a week 
in a far-away German hospital his mother 
and sisters were in Paris of a damnable vicious 
typhoid, contracted in his London office, the 
" picturesqueness " of which he loved, as it 
was in Dean's Yard, Westminster, just under 
the Abbey towers, and in a corner like that of 
a peaceful Cathedral close. Many things, many 
enterprises, interests, visions, originalities perish 
with him. Oh, the " ironies of fate," the ugly 



AET. 48 TO MRS. MAHLON SANDS 191 

tricks, the hideous practical jokes of life ! I 
start for London some time next week and 
shall very soon come and see you. I hope 
all is well with you. 

Yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Mrs. Humphry Ward. 

The following was written a few days after the death 
of Miss Alice James. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
March 10th [1892]. 

Dear Mrs. Ward, 

Many, many thanks for your friendly 
remembrance of me the flowers are full of 
spring and life and the universe, as it were, 
and, besides this, are very close and charming 
company to me as I sit scribbling writing 
many notes among other things in still, indoor 
days that are grateful to me. You were one 
of the very few persons in England who had 
seen my sister even a little and I am very 
glad of that. She was a rare and remarkable 
being, and her death makes a great difference 
in my existence. But for her it is only blessed. 
I hope you are happy in the good reasons you 
have for being so if one is happy strictly 
(certainly one isn't the reverse) for " reasons." 
Believe me yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



192 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1392 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Stevenson, it will be recalled, dedicated Across the Plains 
to M. Paul Bourget, as an expression of his delight in that 
author's Sensations tfltalie, sent him by H. J. Mr. Kipling 
did not, as it turned out, pay his projected visit to Samoa, 
referred to in this letter. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

March 19th, 1892. 
My dear Louis, 

I send you today by book-post, regis- 
tered, a little volume of tales which I lately 
put forth most of which however you may 
have seen in magazines. Please accept at any 
rate the modest offering. Accept, too, my thanks 
for your sweet and dateless letter which I re- 
ceived a month ago the one in which you 
speak with such charming appreciation and 
felicity of Paul Bourget. I echo your admiration 
I think the Italian book one of the most 
exquisite things of our time. I am in only 
very occasional correspondence with him and 
have not written since I heard from you ; but 
I shall have an early chance, now probably, 
to repeat your words to him, and they will 
touch him in a tender place. He is living much, 
now, in Italy, and I may go there for May or 
June though indeed I fear it is little pro- 
bable. Colvin tells me of the volume of some 
of your inedites beauties that is on the point 
of appearing, and the news is a bright spot 
in a vulgar world. The vulgarity of literature 
in these islands at the present time is not to 
be said, and I shall clutch at you as one turns 
one's ear to music in the clatter of the market- 
place. Yet, paradoxical as it may appear, oh 
Louis, I have still had the refinement not to 
read the Wrecker in the periodical page. This 



A ET . 48 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 193 

is an enlightened and judicious heroism, and 
I do as I would be done by. Trust me, how- 
ever, to taste you in long draughts as soon as 
I can hold the book. Then will I write to you 
again. You tell me nothing of yourself so 
I have nothing to take up or take hold of, save 
indeed the cherished superstition that you enjoy 
some measure of health and cheer. You are, 
however, too far away for my imagination, 
and were it not for dear Colvin's friendly magic, 
which puts in a pin here and there, I shouldn't 
be able to catch and arrest at all the opaline 
iridescence of your legend. Yet even when 
he speaks of intending wars and the clash of 
arms, it all passes over me like an old-time 
song. You see how much I need you close 
at hand to stand successfully on the tiptoe 
of emulation. You fatigue, in short, my credu- 
lity, though not my affection. We lately clubbed 
together, all, to despatch to you an eye-witness 
in the person of the genius or the genus, in him- 
self, Rudyard, for the concussion of whose 
extraordinary personality with your own we 
are beginning soon to strain the listening ear. 
We devoutly hope that this time he will really 
be washed upon your shore. With him goes 
a new little wife whose brother Wolcott 
Balestier, lately dead, in much youthful promise 
and performance (I don't allude, in saying 
that, especially to the literary part of it,) was 
a very valued young friend of mine. . . . The 
main thing that has lately happened to my- 
self is the death of my dear sister a fortnight 
ago after years of suffering, which, however, 
had not made her any less rare and remark- 
able a person or diminished the effect of the 
event (when it should occur) in making an 
extreme difference in my life. Of my occupa- 
tion what shall I tell you ? I have of late 



194 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1392 

years left London less and less but I am think- 
ing sooner or later (in a near present) of making 
a long foreign, though not distant, absence. I 
am busy with the short I have forsworn the 
long. I hammer at the horrid little theatrical 
problem, with delays and intermissions, but, 
horrible to relate, no failure of purpose. I 
shall soon publish another small story-book 
which I will incontinently send you. I have 
done many brief fictions within the last year. 
. . . The good little Thomas Hardy has scored 
a great success with Tess of the (TUrbervilles, 
which is chock-full of faults and falsity and 
yet has a singular beauty and charm. . . . 

What we most talk of here, however, is the 
day when it may be believed that you will 
come to meet us on some attainable southern 
shore. We will all go to the Mediterranean 
for you let that not nail you to Samoa. I 
send every greeting to your play-fellows your 
fellow-phantoms. The wife-phantom knows my 
sentiments. The ghost of a mother has my 
heartiest regard. The long Lloyd-spectre laughs 
an eerie laugh, doubtless, at my [word illegible] 
embrace. Yet I feel, my dear Louis, that I 
do hold you just long enough to press you to 
the heart of your very faithful old friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

April 15th, 1892. 
My dear Louis, 

I send you by this post the magnificent 
Memoires de Marbot, which should have gone 
to you sooner by my hand if I had sooner 
read them and sooner, thereby, grasped the 
idea of how much they would probably beguile 



AET. 49 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 195 

for you the shimmering tropical noon. The three 
volumes go to you in three separate registered 
book-post parcels and all my prayers for an escape 
from the queer perils of the way attend and hover 
about them. Some people, I believe, consider 
this fascinating warrior a bien-conditionne Mun- 
chausen but perish the injurious thought. Me 
he not only charms but convinces. I can't manage 
a letter, my dear Louis, to-day I wrote you a 
longish one, via San Francisco (like this,) just 
about a month ago. But I mustn't fail to tell you 
that I have just read the last page of the sweet 
collection of some of your happiest lucubrations 
put forth by the care of dear Colvin. They make 
a most desirable, and moreover a very honour- 
able, volume. It was indispensable to bring 
them together and they altogether justify it. 
The first one, and the Lantern-Bearers and 
two last, are of course the best these last 
are all made up of high and admirable pages 
and do you the greatest credit. You have 
never felt, thought, said, more finely and happily 
than in many a passage here, and are in them 
altogether at your best. I don't see reviews 
or meet newspapers now (beside which the 
work is scarcely in the market,) so I don't know 
what fortune the book encounters but it is 
enough for me I admit it can hardly be enough 
for you that I love it. I pant for the com- 
pletion of The Wrecker of which Colvin unwove 
the other night, to my rapturous ear, the weird 
and wondrous tangle. I hope I don't give 
him away if I tell you he even read me a very 
interesting letter from you though studded with 
critical Stardust in which I a little lost my way 
telling of a project of a dashing roman de mceurs 
all about a wicked woman. For this you may 
imagine how I yearn though not to the point 
of wanting it before the sequel of Kidnapped. 



196 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1892 

For God's sake let me have them both. 
I marvel at the liberality of your production 
and rejoice in this high meridian of your genius. 
I leave London presently for 3 or 4 months 
I wish it were with everything required for 
leaping on your strand. Sometimes I think 
I have got through the worst of missing you 
and then I find I haven't. I pine for you as 
I pen these words, for I am more and more 
companionless in my old age more and more 
shut up to the solitude inevitably the portion, 
in these islands, of him who would really try, 
even in so small a way as mine, to do it. I'm 
often on the point of taking the train down 
to Skerryvore, to serenade your ghosts, get 
them to throw a fellow a word. Consider this, 
at any rate, a plaintive invocation. Again, 
again I greet your wife, that lady of the closed 
lips, and I am yours, my dear Louis, and Lloyd's 
and your mother's undiscourageably, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To the Countess of Jersey. 

The " little story " is The Lesson of the Master, the 
opening scenes of which take place at " Summersoft." 
Lord Jersey was at this time Governor of New South 
Wales. 

Hotel de Sienne, Siena. 

June llth [1892]. 
Dear Lady Jersey, 

Your kind letter finds me in a foreign 
land the land in the world, I suppose, least 
like New South Wales and gives me very 
great pleasure. It is charming to hear your 
voice so distinctly round so many corners of 
the globe. Yes, " Summersoft " did venture 
in a timorous and hesitating manner to be an 
affectionate and yet respectful reminiscence of 



. 49 TO THE COUNTESS OF JERSEY 197 

Osterley the exquisite of whose folded and 
deserted charms I can't bear to think. But 
I beg you to believe as indeed you will have 
perceived if you were so good as to look at the 
little story that the attempted resemblance 
was only a matter of the dear old cubic sofa- 
cushions and objects of the same delightful 
order, and not of the human furniture of the 
house. I take the liberty of being, in your 
absence, so homesick for Osterley that I can 
scarcely conceive of the pangs by which you 
and your children and Lord Jersey with your 
much greater right to indulge in them must 
sometimes be visited. I am delighted, how- 
ever, to gather from your letter that you have 
occupations and interests which drop a kindly 
veil over that dreamland. It must indeed, I 
can imagine, be a satisfaction to be really lend- 
ing a hand in such a great young growing world 
doing something in it and with it and for it. 
May the sense of all this make the years roll 
smoothly till they roll you back into our ken. 
. . . Please give my very friendliest remem- 
brance to Lord Jersey to whom I wish as 
to all of you and indeed to myself, that you 
may serve your term with an appearance of 
rapidity. And please believe, dear Lady Jersey, 
that when it is over, no one will more heartily 
rejoice than yours most faithfully, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Charles Eliot Norton. 

Hotel de Sienne, Siena. 

July 4th, 1892. 
My dear Charles, 

Too long have I owed you a letter and 
too many times have your generosities made 
me blush for my silence. I have received beauti- 



198 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1392 

ful books from you and they have given me 
almost more pleasure as signs of your remem- 
brance than as symbols of your wisdom and 
worth. The Purgatorio reached me just before 
I came abroad or a short time and I was 
delighted to know that you continue to find 
time and strength for labours so various and 
so arduous. Great glory is yours for making 
something else come out of America than railway- 
smashes and young ladies for lords. During 
a singularly charming month that I have been 
spending in this most loveable old city I have 
often thought of you and wished I had a small 
fraction of your power to put the soul of history 
into Italian things. But I believe I shouldn't 
love Siena any better even if I knew it better. 
I am very happy indeed to feel that as I grow 
older many things come and go, but Italy 
remains. I have been here many times regu- 
larly every year or almost, for many years now, 
but the spell, the charm, the magic is still in 
the air. I always try, between May and August, 
to give London a wide berth, and I find these 
parts far and away most pleasant when the 
summer has begun and the barbarians have 
fled. As one stays and stays on here I mean 
on this spot one feels how untouched Siena 
really is by the modern hand. Yesterday was 
the Palio of the ten contrade, and though I 
believe it is not so intense a festival as the second 
one of Aug. 15th (you have probably or cer- 
tainly seen them both) it was a most curious 
and characteristic (of an uninterrupted tradi- 
tion) spectacle. The Marchese Chigi asked me 
and a couple of friends or rather asked them, 
and me with them to see it from the balcony 
of his extraordinarily fine old palace, where 
by the way he has a large collection of Etruscan 
and Tarentine treasures a collection to break 



. 49 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 199 

the heart of envy. My friends were Paul Bourget, 
the French essayist and novelist (some of whose 
work you probably know,) and his very remark- 
ably charming, cultivated and interesting young 
wife. They have been living in Italy these 
two years ever since their marriage, and I 
have been living much with them here. Bourget 
is a very interesting mind and figure alto- 
gether and the first easily, to my sense 
of all the talkers I have ever encountered. But 
it would take me much too far to begin to give 
you a portrait of such a complicated cosmo- 
politan Frenchman as he ! But they departed, 
alas, this morning, for the Piedmontese Alps, 
and I take my way, in a couple of hours, to 
Venice, where I spend but a few days with 
perhaps a few more at Asolo before joining 
my brother William and his wife for a month 
in Switzerland. After that I expect to return 
to London for the last of the summer and the 
early autumn the season I prefer there above 
all others. But before I do this I wish I could 
talk to you more about this sweet old Siena. 
I have been talking for a month about it with 
Bourget but how much better it would have 
been for both of us if. you could have broken 
in and taken up the tale ! But you did, some- 
times, very happily for Mme Paul knows you 
by heart (she is the Madonna of cosmopolitan 
culture) and cites you with great effect. Have 
you read P. B.'s Sensations d'ltalie ? If you 
haven't, do it is one of the most exquisite of 
books. Have you read any of his novels ? If 
you haven't, don't, though they have remarkable 
parts. Make an exception, however, for Terre 
Promise, which is to appear a few months hence, 
and which I have been reading in proof, here 
if on trial, indeed, you find you can stand so 
suffocating an analysis. It is perhaps " psy- 



200 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1892 

chology " gone mad but it is an extraordinary 
production. A fortnight ago, on a singularly 
lovely Sunday, we drove to San Gimignano 
and back. I had never been there before, and 
the whole day was a delight. There are of 
course four Americans living at San G. one 
of whom proved afterwards to have been 
an American " lady-newspaper-correspondent " 
furious at having missed two such birds as 
Bourget and me whom a single stone from 
that rugged old quarry would have brought 
down. But she didn't know us until we had 
departed and we fortunately didn't suspect her 
till a suppliant card reached us two days later 
at Siena. We were in the hands of the good 
old Canonico the proposito, as they call him 
and he put us gently through. You remember 
well enough of course though to such a far- 
away world your Siena summer must seem to 
belong the rich loveliness, at this moment, 
of this exquisite old Tuscany. One can't say 
enough about it, and the way the great sea of 
growing things the corn and the vines and 
the olives breaks in green surges at the very 
foot of the old golden-brown ramparts, is one 
of the most enchanting features of Siena. There 
is still never a suburb to speak of save in the 
quarter of the rail way- station, and everywhere 
you look out of back -windows and back-doors 
and off terraces and over parapets straight down 
into the golden grain and the tangled poderi. 
Every evening we have gone to walk in the 
Lizza and hang over the bastions of the Castello ; 
where the near views and the far, and the late 
afternoons and the sunsets and the mountains 
have made us say again and again that we could 
never, never go away. But we are coming back, 
and I greatly wish you were. We went the other 
day to the archivio, which I had never seen 



. 49 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 201 

before, and where I was amazed and fascinated. 
(It is a great luxury to be in Italy with a French 
celebrity he is so tremendously known and 
well treated, as the " likes " of us can never 
be, and one comes in for some of his privileges.) 
You of course probably know, however, what 
the fullness, detail, continuity and curiosity 
of the records of this place are filling with 
their visible, palpable medievalism the great 
upper chamber of Pal. Piccolomini. 

Bast a I have my trunk to pack and my 
reckoning to pay. I am very glad to have 
shaken hands with you before I go. I saw 
dear Burne-Jones tolerably often this spring 
often unwell, but almost always stippling away. 
He is the most loveable of men and the most 
disinterested of artists, but sometimes I wish 
that he set himself a different order of tasks. 
Painting as I feel it most it is true I have 
ceased to feel it very much is, with him, more 
and more " out of it." There remains, how- 
ever, a beautiful poetry. ... I want to ask 
you 20 questions about [Lowell's] papers 
but I feel it isn't fair and I must wait and see. 
I hope this work and your masses of other 
work don't take all your holiday. ... I shall 
send this to Ashfield, and if you are there will 
you give, for me, a very cordial greeting to that 
mythical man George Curtis ? I embrace all 
your house and am, my dear Charles, very 
affectionately yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



202 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 



To W. D. Howells. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Jan. 29th [1893]. 
My dear Howells, 

Two beneficent notes have I had from 
you since last I wrote you a word : one in regard 
to looking, effectively, after some Cosmopolitan 
business in the autumn ; the other a heavenly 
remark or two (still further sublimated by Mil- 
dred's lovely photograph) in lately forwarding 
me with a courtesy worthy of a better cause 
a particularly shameless autograph-seeker's letter. 
For such and all of these good gifts I am more 
thankful than the hurrying days have left me 
much of a chance to tell you. Most especially 
am I grateful for the portrait of the beautiful, 
beautiful maiden. Please thank her from me, 
if not for sending it, at least for so felicitously 
sitting for it. It makes me jump the torrent 
of the years and reconstruct from her fine features 
the mythological past a still tenderer youth 
than her present youth. (I ought to be able to 
mean my own ; but I can't manage it her 
profile won't help me to that.) I envy you and 
your wife her company and I rejoice for you in 
her presence. I rejoice for myself, my dear 
Howells, about your so delicate words to me 
in regard to a bit of recent work. They go 
to my heart they go perhaps still straighter 
to my head ! I am so utterly lonely here 
on the " literary plane " that it is the 
strangest as well as the sweetest sensation to 
be conscious in the boundless void the dim 
desert sands of any human approach at 
all or any kindly speech. Therefore please be 
very affectionately thanked. All this while I 
never see anything that you yourself have lately 



AET. 49 TO W. D. HOWELLS 208 

flowered with I mean the volumes that you 
freehandedly scatter. I console myself with 
believing that one or two of your last serial 
fictions are not volumes yet. Please hold them 
not back from soon becoming so. I see you 
are drawing a longish bow in the Cosmopolitan 
but I only read you when I can sit down to 
a continuous feast and all the courses. You 
asked me in your penultimate I am talking 
now of your early-in-the-winter letter if I should 
object to being made a feature of your com- 
posed reminiscences. To which I reply that I 
only wish that I could enrich them better. 

1 won't pretend that I like being written about 
the sight of my own name on a printed page 
makes me as ill (and the sensibility increases 
strangely with time) as that of one of my crea- 
tions makes me well. I have a morbid passion 
for personal privacy and a standing quarrel 
with the blundering publicities of the age. I 
wince even at eulogy, and I wither (for exactly 

2 minutes and f ) at any qualification of adula- 
tion. But on the other hand I like, I love, to be 
remembered by you and I surrender myself to 
your discretion. I hope your winter, and Mrs. 
Ho wells' and the fairest of daughter s's, is rich 
and full and sane. How you must miss the 
Boy. I go abroad soon and hope to see him 
in Paris. When do you do the same ? Yours 
always, my dear Ho wells, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Feb. 17th, 1893. 
My dear distant Louis, 

The charmingest thing that had happened 
to me for a year was the advent of your re- 



204 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1393 

assuring note of Dec. 5th (not 189^ my dear 
time-deluded islander : it is enviable to see 
you so luxuriously " out." When you indulge in 
the eccentricity ot a date you make it eccentric 
indeed.) I call your good letter reassuring simply 
on the general ground of its making you credible 
for an hour. You are otherwise wholly of the 
stuff that dreams are made of. I think this 
is why I don't keep writing to you, don't talk 
to you, as it were, in my sleep. Please don't 
think I forget you or am indifferent to any- 
thing that concerns you. The mere thought 
of you is better company than almost any that 
is tangible to me here, and London is more 

E copied to me by your living in Samoa than 
y the residence of almost anybody else in 
Kensington or Chelsea. I fix my curiosity on 
you all the while and try to understand your 
politics and your perils and your public life. 
If in these efforts I make a poor figure it is only 
because you are so wantonly away. Then I 
think I envy you too much your climate, 
your thrill of life, your magnificent facility. 
You judge well that I have far too little of this 
last though you can't judge how much more 
and more difficult I find it every day to write. 
None the less I am presently putting forth, 
almost with exact simultaneity, three little 
(distinct) books 2 volumes of penny fiction 
and one of little essays, all material gathered, 
no doubt, from sources in which you may already 
have encountered some of it. However this 
may be, the matter shall again be (D.V.) deposited 
on your coral strand. Most refreshing, even 
while not wholly convincing, was the cool trade- 
wind (is the trade- wind cool ?) of your criticism 
of some of ces messieurs. I grant you Hardy 
with all my heart. ... I am meek and ashamed 
where the public clatter is deafening so I 



A ET . 49 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 205 

bowed my head and let " Tess of the D.'s " 
pass. But oh yes, dear Louis, she is vile. The 
pretence of " sexuality " is only equalled by 
the absence of it, and the abomination of the 
language by the author's reputation for style. 
There are indeed some pretty smells and sights and 
sounds. But you have better ones in Polynesia. 
On the other hand I can't go with you three 

yards in your toleration either of or of 

. Let me add that I can't read them, so I 

don't know anything about them. All the same 
I make no bones to pronounce them shameless 
industriels and their works only glories of Birming- 
ham. You will have gathered that I delight 
in your year of literary prowess. None the 
less I haven't read a word of you since the 
brave and beautiful Wrecker. I won't touch 
you till I can feel that I embrace you in the 
embracing cover. So it is that I languish till 
the things now announced appear. Colvin makes 
me impatient for David Balfour but doesn't 
yet stay my stomach with the Beach of Falesd. 
. . . Mrs Sitwell me fait part of every savoury 
scrap she gets from you. I know what you 
all magnificently eat, and what dear Mrs Louis 
splendidly (but not somewhat transparently 
no ?) wears. Please assure that intensely- 
remembered lady of my dumb fidelity. I am 
told your mother nears our shores and I promise 
myself joy on seeing her and pumping her. 
I don't know, however, alas, how long this 
ceremony may be delayed, as I go to Italy, 
for all the blessed spring, next week. I have 
been in London without an hour's absence 
since the middle of Aug. last. I hear you utter 
some island objurgation, and go splashing, to 
banish the stuffy image, into the sapphire sea. 
Is it all a fable that you will come some 
month to the Mediterranean ? I would go to the 



206 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

Pillars of Hercules to greet you. Give my 
love to the lusty and literary Lloyd. I am 
very glad to observe him spreading his wings. 
There is absolutely nothing to send you. The 
Muses are dumb, and in France as well. Of 
Bourget's big 7 franc Cosmopolis I have, alas, 
purchased three copies and given them away ; 
but even if I were to send you one you would 
find it too round and round the subject which 
heaven knows it is for your taste. I will 
try and despatch you the charming little " Etui 
de Nacre " of Anatole France a real master. 
Vale age. Yours, my dear Louis, in a kind of 
hopeful despair and a clinging alienation, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Mrs. Edmund Gosse. 

Hotel Westminster, Paris. 

March 21st [1893]. 
Dear Mrs. Gosse, 

Many thanks for your better news and 
especially for the good news that Gosse is com- 
ing to Paris. I shall be very glad to see him 
and shall rejoice to take him gently by that 
injured but I trust soon to be reanimated 
member. Please express this to him, with all 
my sympathy and impatience. Won't he or 
won't you (though indeed I shall cull the precious 
date from Harland,) give me a hint, in advance, 
of the particular moment at which one may 
look for him ? Please tell him confidently to 
expect that Paris will create within him afresh 
all the finest pulses of life. It is mild, sunny, 
splendid blond and fair, all in order for his 
approach. I allude of course to the specious 
allurements of its exterior. The state is odor- 
ously rotten but everything else is charming. 
And then it's such a blessing, after long grief 



AET. so TO MRS. EDMUND GOSSE 207 

and pain, to find the arms of a climate around 
us once again ! Hasten, my dear Edmund, 
to be healed. 

Thank heaven, my allusion to my own manual 
distress was mainly a florid figure. My hand is 
infirm but I am not yet thinking of the knife. 
Mille choses to the Terrace. 

Yours and Gosse's always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Edmund Gosse. 

The seductive "Queen of the Golconda, " and of the Boule- 
vard St. Michel, appears in Mr. Gosse's anecdote of Paul 
Verlaine (French Profiles). The passage of Loti's Matelot, 
to which H. J. refers, is the following : " Done, ils en 
venaient a s'aimer d'une egalement pure tendresse, tous 
les deux. Elle, ignorante des choses d 'amour et lisant 
chaque soir sa bible ; elle, destinee a rester inutilement 
fraiche et jeune encore pendant quelques printemps pales 
comme celui-ci, puis a vieillir et se faner dans I'enserrement 
monotone de ces memes rues et de ces memes murs. Lui, 
gate deja par les baisers et les etreintes, ay ant le monde 
pour habitation changeante, appele a partir, peut-etre 
demain, pour ne revenir jamais et laisser son corps aux 
merslointaines." 

Hotel Westminster, Paris. 
Monday [May 1st, 1893]. 
My dear Gosse, 

I have delayed too long to thank you 
for your genial last : which please attribute 
to the misery of my Boulevard-baffled aspir- 
ations. Paris n'est plus possible from any point 
of view and I leave it tomorrow or next day, 
when my address will become : Hotel National, 
Lucerne. I join my brother there for a short 
time. This place continues to rengorger with 
sunshine and sauces, not to mention other 
appeals to the senses and pitfalls to the pocket. 
I am not alluding in particular to the Queen of 



208 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1393 

Golconda ! I have read Matelot more or less 
over again ; for the extreme penury of the 
idea in Loti, and the almost puerile thinness 
of this particular donnee, wean me not a jot 
from the irresistible charm the rascal's very 
limitations have for me. I drink him down 
as he is like a philtre or a baiser, and the color- 
ation of his moindre mots has a peculiar magic 
for me. Read aloud to yourself the passage 
ending section XXXV the upper part of page 
165, and perhaps you will find in it something 
of the same strange eloquence of suggestion 
and rhythm as I do : which is what literature 
gives when it is most exquisite and which con- 
stitutes its sovereign value and its resistance 
to devouring time. And yet what niaiseries ! 
Paris continues gorgeous and rainless, but less 
torrid. I have become inured to fear as careless 
of penalties. There are no new books but old 
papiers de famille et d'arriere-boutique dished 
up. Poor Harland came and spent 2 or 3 
hours with me the other afternoon at a cafe- 
front and on chairs in the Champs-Ely sees. 
He looked better than the time previous, but 
not well ; and I am afraid things are not too 
well with him. One would like to help him 
and I try to in talk ; but he is not too help- 
able, for there is a chasm too deep to bridge, I 
fear, in the pitfall of his literary longings 
unaccompanied by the faculty. Apropos of such 
things I am very glad to see your faculty is 
reflowering. I shall return to England for the 
volume. Are you writing about Symonds ? 
Vale especially in the manual part. And valeat 
your dame compagne. 

Yours, my dear Gosse, always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AET. so TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 209 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

Stevenson, writing to H. J. from Vailima, June ^ 7, 1893, 
announced that he was sending a photograph of his wife. 
" It reminds me of a friend of my grandmother's who used 
to say when talking to younger women, ' Aweel, when I 
was young, I wasnae just exactly what ye wad call bonny, 
but I was pale, penetratin', and interestinV ' (Letters to 
his Family and Friends.) 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
August 5th, 1893. 

My dear Louis, 

I have a most charming and interesting 
letter, and a photographic representation of 
your fine head which I cannot so unrestrictedly 
commend, to thank you for. The portrait has 
its points as a memento, but they are not fine 
points as a likeness. I remember you, I think 
of you, I evoke you, much more plastically. 
But it was none the less liberal and faithful of 
you to include me in the list of fond recipients. 
Your letter contained all sorts of good things, 
but best of all the happy news of your wife's 
better condition. I rejoice in that almost ob- 
streperously and beg you to tell her so with 
my love. The Sydney photograph that you 
kindly announce (of her) hasn't come, but I 
impatiently desire it. Meanwhile its place is 
gracefully occupied by your delightful anecdote 
of your mother's retrospective Scotch friend 
the pale, penetratin' and interestin' one. Perhaps 
you will permit me to say that it is exquisitely 
Scotch ; at any rate it moves altogether in the 
highest walks of anecdote. 

I get, habitually, the sympathetic infection, 
from Colvin, of so much general uneasiness 
and even alarm about you, that it is reassuring 
to find you apparently incommoded by nothing 



210 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1393 

worse than the privation of liquor and tobacco. 
" Nothing worse ? " I hear you echo, while 
you ask to what more refined savagery of torture 
I can imagine you subjected. You would rather 
perhaps and small blame to you perish by 
the sword than by famine. But you won't 
perish, my dear Louis, and I am here to tell you 
so. I should have perished long ago if it 
were mortal. No liquor to speak of- passes my 
wasted lips, and yet they are capable of the 
hypocrisy of the sigh of resignation. I am very, 
very sorry for you for I remember the genial 
tray which in the far-off, fabulous time used 
to be placed, as the evening waxed, under the 
social lamp at Skerryvore. The evenings wax at 
Vailima, but the tray, I gather, has waned. May 
this heavy trial be lightened, and, as you mission- 
aries say, be even blessed to you. It wounds, 
I repeat, but it doesn't kill more's the pity. 
The tobacco's another question. I have smoked 
a cigarette at Skerryvore ; and I shall prob- 
ably smoke one again. But I don't look forward 
to it. However, you will think me objection- 
ably destitute of temperament. What depresses 
me much more is the sad sense that you receive 
scarcely anything I send you. This, however, 
doesn't deter me from posting you today, regis- 
tered, via San Francisco (it is post-day,) a 
volume of thin trifles lately put forth by me 
and entitled Essays in London and Elsewhere. 
It contains some pretty writing not addressed 
to the fishes. My last letter to you, to which 
yours of June 17th [was a reply] the only 
dated one, dear Louis, I ever got from you ! 
was intended to accompany two other volumes 
of mine, which were despatched to you, registered, 
via San F., at the same moment (The Real Thing 
and The Private Life.) Yet neither of these 
works, evidently, had reached you when you 



A ET . 60 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 211 

ask me not to send you the former (though 
my letter mentioned that it had started,) as 
you had ordered it. It is all a mystery which 
the fishes only will have sounded. I also post 
to you herewith Paul Bourget's last little tale 
(Un Scrupule,) as to which nothing will induce 
me to utter the faintest rudiments of an opinion. 
It is full of talent (I don't call that a rudiment,) 
but the French are passing strange. I am very 
glad to be able to send you herewith enclosed 
a petit mot from the said Paul Bourget, in 
response to your sense of outrage at his too- 
continuous silence. . . . His intentions, I can 
answer for it, had been the best ; but he leads 
so migratory a life that I don't see how any 
intention can ever well fructify. He has spent 
the winter in the Holy Land and jumps thence 
in three weeks (from Beyrout) to his queer 
American expedition. A year ago more he 
earnestly asked me (at Siena) for your address. 
I as eagerly gave it to him par ecrit but the 
acknowledgment that he was then full of the 
desire to make to you succumbed to complex 
frustrations. Now that, at last, here it is, I 
wish you to be able to read it ! But you won't. 
My hand is the hand of Apollo to it. 

I have been at the sea-side for six weeks, 
and am back in the empty town mainly because 
it is empty. My sea-side is the sordid sands 
of Ramsgate I see your coral-reefs blush pink 
at the vulgarity of the name. The place has 
for me an unutterable advantage (in the press 
of working-weeks) which the beach of Falesa 
would, fortunately, not have that of being 
full of every one I don't know. The beach 
of Falesa would enthrall but sterilize me I 
mean the social muse would disjoint the classic 
nose of the other. You will certainly think 
me barren enough as I am, I am really less 



212 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1393 

desiccated than I seem, however, for I am 
working with patient subterraneity at a trade 
which it is dishonour enough to practise, without 
talking about it : a trade supremely dangerous 
and heroically difficult that credit at least 
belongs to it. The case is simplified for me by 
the direst necessity : the book, as my limitations 
compel me to produce it, doesn't bring me in 
a penny. Tell it not in Samoa or at least 
not in Tahiti ; but I don't sell ten copies ! 
and neither editors nor publishers will have any- 
thing whatever to say to me. But I never men- 
tion it nearer home. " Politics," dear politician 
I rejoice that you are getting over them. When 
you say that you always "believed" them beastly 
I am tempted to become superior and say that 
I always knew them so. At least I don't see 
how one can have glanced, however cursorily, 
at the contemporary newspapers (I mean the 
journal of one's whole time,) and had any doubt 
of it. The morals, the manners, the materials 
of all those gentlemen are writ there more large 
than any record is elsewhere writ, and the 
impudence of their airs and pretensions in the 
presence of it revolts even the meekness of a 
spirit as resigned to everything as mine. The 
sordid fight in the House of Commons the other 
night seemed to me only a momentary inter- 
mission of hypocrisy. The hypocrisy comes back 
with the pretended confusion over it. The 
Lives of the Stevensons (with every respect 
to them) isn't what I want you most to write, 
but I would rather you should publish ten 
volumes of them than another letter to the 
Times. Meanwhile I am languishing for Catriona 
and the weeks follow and I must live without 
you. It isn't life. But I am still amicably 
yours and your wife's and the insidious Lloyd's, 

HENRY JAMES. 



. 50 TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 213 



To Robert Louis Stevenson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

October 21st [1893.] 
My dear Louis, 

The postal guide tells me, disobligingly, 
that there is no mail to you via San Francisco 
this month and that I must confide my few 
lines to the precarious and perfidious Hamburg. 
I do so, then, for the plain reason that I can 
no longer repress the enthusiasm that has surged 
within me ever since I read Catriona. I missed, 
just after doing so, last month's post, and I 
was infinitely vexed that it should not have 
conveyed to you the freshness of my rapture. 
For the said Catriona so reeks and hums with 
genius that there is no refuge for the desperate 
reader but in straightforward prostration. I'm 
not sure that it's magnanimous of you to suc- 
ceed so inconsiderately there is a modesty 
in easy triumph which your flushed muse perhaps 
a little neglects. But forgive that lumbering 
image I won't attempt to carry it out. Let 
me only say that I don't despatch these ineffec- 
tual words on their too watery way to do any- 
thing but thank you for an exquisite pleasure. 
I hold that when a book has the high beauty 
of that one there's a poor indelicacy in what 
simple folk call criticism. The work lives by 
so absolute a law that it's grotesque to prattle 
about what might have been ! I shall express 
to you the one point in which my sense was 
conscious of an unsatisfied desire, but only 
after saying first how rare an achievement I 
think the whole personality and tone of David 
and with how supremely happy a hand you 
have coloured the palpable women. They are 



214 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

quite too lovely and everyone is running after 
them. In David not an error, not a false note 
ever ; he is all of an exasperating truth and 
Tightness. The one thing I miss in the book 
is the note of visibility it subjects my visual 
sense, my seeing imagination, to an almost 
painful underfeeding. The hearing imagination, 
as it were, is nourished like an alderman, and 
the loud audibility seems a slight the more 
on the baffled lust of the eyes so that I seem 
to myself (I am speaking of course only from 
the point of view of the way, as I read, my 
impression longs to complete itself) in the 
presence of voices in the darkness voices the 
more distinct and vivid, the more brave and 
sonorous, as voices always are but also the 
more tormenting and confounding by reason 
of these bandaged eyes. I utter a pleading 
moan when you, e.g., transport your characters, 
toward the end, in a line or two from Leyden 
to Dunkirk without the glint of a hint of all 
the ambient picture of the 18th century road. 
However, stick to your own system of evocation 
so long as what you positively achieve is so 
big. Life and letters and art all take joy in 
you. 

I am rejoiced to hear that your wife is less 
disturbed in health and that your anxieties 
are somewhat appeased. I don't know how 
sufficiently to renew, to both of you, the assur- 
ance of all my friendliest sympathy. You live 
in conditions so unimaginable and to the tune 
of experience so great and so strange that you 
must forgive me if I am altogether out of step 
with your events. I know you're surrounded 
with the din of battle, and yet the beauty you 
produce has the Goethean calm, even like the 
beauty distilled at Weimar when the smoke 
was over Jena. Let me touch you at least 



AET. so TO ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON 215 

on your bookish side and the others may bristle 
with heroics. I pray you be made accessible 
some day in a talkative armchair by the fire. 
If it hadn't been for Catriona we couldn't, 
this year, have held up our head. It had been 
long, before that, since any decent sentence 
was turned in English. We grow systemati- 
cally vulgarer and baser. The only blur of 
light is that your books are tasted. I shall 
try to see Colvin before I post this otherwise 
I haven't seen him for three months. I've had 
a summer of the British seaside, the bathing 
machine and the German band. I met Zola 
at luncheon the day before he left London and 
found him very sane and common and inex- 
perienced. Nothing, literally nothing, has ever 
happened to him but to write the Rougon- 
Macquart. It makes that series, I admit, still 
more curious. Your tour de force is of the opposite 
kind. Renew the miracle, my dear Louis, and 
believe me yours already gaping, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. I have had to keep my poor note several 
days finding that after all there is, thank 
heaven, a near post by San Francisco. Mean- 
while I have seen Colvin and made discreetly, 
though so eagerly, free of some of your projects 
and gyrations ! Trapezist in the Pacific void ! 

..." Catriona " is more and more BEAUTIFUL. 
There's the rub ! 

H. J. 



216 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1393 



To William James. 

The incident referred to in the following letter was the 
unexpected miscarriage of one of H. J.'s theatrical schemes. 
Meanwhile Guy Domville had been accepted for future 
production at the St. James's Theatre. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
Dec. 29th, 1893. 

... I rejoice greatly in Alice's announcement 
(which you, William, coyly don't mention) of the 
presidency of the [Society for Psychical Research], 
I hope it's all honour and kudos and pleasantness, 
without a tax of botherations. I wish I could 
give you some correspondingly good tidings of 
my own ascensory movement ; but I had a fall 
or rather took a jump the other day (a month 
ago) of which the direction was not vulgarly 
I mean theatrically and financially upward. 
You are so sympathetic about the whole sordid 
development that I make a point of mentioning 
the incident. ... It was none the less for a 
while a lively disgust and disappointment 
a waste of patient and ingenious labour and a 
sacrifice of coin much counted on. But a la 
guerre comme a la guerre. I mean to wage 
this war ferociously for one year more 1894 
and then (unless the victory and the spoils 
have by that become more proportionate than 
hitherto to the humiliations and vulgarities and 
disgusts, all the dishonour and chronic insult 
incurred) to " chuck " the whole intolerable 
experiment and return to more elevated and 
more independent courses. The whole odious- 
ness of the thing lies in the connection between 
the drama and the theatre. The one is admir- 
able in its interest and difficulty, the other 
loathsome in its conditions. If the drama could 



AET. so TO WILLIAM JAMES 217 

only be theoretically or hypothetically acted, 
the fascination resident in its all but unconquer- 
able (circumspice !) form would be unimpaired, 
and one would be able to have the exquisite 
exercise without the horrid sacrifice. However, 
Alexander's preparations ol my play are going 
on sedulously, as to which situation and cir- 
cumstances are all essentially different. He 
will produce me at no distant date, infallibly. 
. . . But meanwhile I am working heroically, 
though it every month becomes more difficult 
to give time to things of which the pecuniary 
fruit is remote. Excuse these vulgar confid- 
ences. I have come to hate the whole theatrical 
subject. . . . Don't write to condole with me 
about the business. I don't in the least " re- 
quire " it. May the new year not have too 
many twists and turns for you, but lie straight 
and smooth before you. 

Evermore your 

HENRY. 

To Julian R. Sturgis. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Sunday [1893]. 
My dear Julian, 

I wish I had your gift of facile and fascin- 
ating rhyme : I would turn it to account to 
thank you for your note and your sympathy. 
Yes, Ibsen is ugly, common, hard, prosaic, 
bottomlessly bourgeois and with his distinc- 
tion so far in, as it were, so behind doors and 
beyond vestibules, that one is excusable for 
not pushing one's way to it. And yet of his 
art he's a master and I feel in him, to the 
pitch of almost intolerable boredom, the presence 
and the insistence of life. On the other hand 
his mastery, so bare and lean as it is, wouldn't 
count nearly as much in any medium in which 



218 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1393 

the genus was otherwise represented. In our 
sandy desert even this translated octopus (excuse 
my confusion of habitats ! !) sits alone, and 
isn't kept in his place by relativity. " Thanks 
awfully ' : for having retained an impression 
from the few Tales. My intentions are mostly 
good. I hope to knock at your door this p.m. 
Yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To George du Maurier. 

An article by H. J. on George du Maurier had appeared 
in Harper's Weekly, April 14, 1894. 

Casa Biondetti, San Vio 715, 

Venice. 

Thursday [May 1894]. 

Only see, my dear Kikaccio, to what my 
thick-and-thin espousal of your genius exposes 
me at the hands of an unknown American 
female. Guileless, stupid, muddled, distracted, 
well-meaning, but slightly hypocritical American 
female ! Don't return, of course, the letter. I 
haven't seen the little cochonnerie I wrote about 
you, bothered, preoccupied with other work, 
more and more incapable of writing that sort of 
thing gracefully and properly in the muddle 
and confusion of my coming abroad ; and I 
hope you haven't, by the trop bons soins of 
Mcllvaine, seen it either. But I bless it in that 
through arousing the American female my clumsy 
' critique ' has given me the occasion to salu- 
tarvi tutti. Are you on the hill or in the vale ? 
I give it up, only pressing you all to my bosom 
wherever you are. Trilby goes on with a life 
and charm and loveability that gild the whole 
day one reads her. It's most delightfully and 
vividlv talked ! And then drawn ! no, it isn't 



AET. 51 TO GEORGE DU MAURIER 219 

fair. Well, I'm in Venice and you're not so 
you've not got quite everything. It has been 
cold and wet ; but Italy is always Italy and 
the only thing really to be depended on quand 
meme. I hope you have not returned to Hamp- 
stead, if you have returned, without tying your 
legs somewhere or other to Bayswater. I hope 
that everything has been well with you all 
you yourself most well. It makes me home- 
sick to write to you but it is the only thing 
that does. I trust fame and flattery and flowers 
flow in upon you with the revolving Harpers. 
. . . Write me a word tell me you don't hate 
me. I seem to remember rather disagreeably 
what I wrote about you. 

Yours, caro mio, always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

H. J. had just received from his brother the diary 
which their sister had kept during her last years in 
England. 

Grand Hotel, Rome. 
May 28th, 1894. 

My dear William : my dear Alice : 

I wrote you a scrabbly note from Ravenna 
a few days since but I must follow it up, with- 
out delay, with something better. I came on 
here an hour afterwards, and shall remain till 
June 1st or 2nd. I find Rome deliciously cool 
and empty, and still very pleasing in spite of 
the " ruining " which has been going on so 
long and of which one has heard so much, i.e. 
the redemption and cockney ficati on of the ruins. 
This " changes " immensely as everyone says ; 
but I find myself, I am afraid, so much more 
changed since I first knew and rhapsodized 
over it, that I am bound in justice to hold Rome 



220 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1*94 

the less criminal of the two. I am thinking a 
little about going down if the coolness lasts 
for three or four days to Naples ; but I haven't 
decided. I feel rather hard and heartless to be 
prattling about these touristries to you, with 
the sad picture I have had these last weeks 
of your William's state of suffering. But it 
is only a way of saying that that state makes 
one feel it to be the greater duty for me to be 
as well as I can. Absit omen ! Your so interest- 
ing letter of the 6th dictated to Alice speaks of 
the possibility of your abscess continuing not to 
heal but I trust the event has long ere this 
reassured, comforted and liberated you. Mean- 
while may Alice have smoothed your pillow as 
even she has never smoothed it before .... 
As regards the life, the power, the temper, 
the humour and beauty and expressiveness of 
the Diary in itself these things were partly 
" discounted " to me in advance by so much 
of Alice's talk during her last years and my 
constant association with her which led me 
often to reflect about her extraordinary force 
of mind and character, her whole way of 
taking life and death in very much the manner 
in which the book does. I find in its pages, 
for instance, many things I heard her say. 
None the less I have been immensely im- 
pressed with the thing as a revelation of a 
moral and personal picture. It is heroic in its 
individuality, its independence its face-to-face 
with the universe for and by herself and 
the beauty and eloquence with which she often 
expresses this, let alone the rich irony and 
humour, constitute (I wholly agree with you) 
a new claim for the family renown. This last 
element her style, her power to write are 
indeed to me a delight for I have had many 
letters from her. Also it brings back to me 



. 51 TO WILLIAM JAMES 221 

all sorts of things I am glad to keep I mean 
things that happened, hours, occasions, con- 
versations brings them back with a strange, 
living richness. But it also puts before me 
what I was tremendously conscious of in her 
life-time that the extraordinary intensity of 
her will and personality really would have made 
the equal, the reciprocal, life of a " well " person 
in the usual world almost impossible to her 
so that her disastrous, her tragic health was 
in a manner the only solution for her of the 
practical problem of life as it suppressed the 
element of equality, reciprocity etc. The violence 
of her reaction against her British ambiente, 
against everything English, engenders some of 
her most admirable and delightful passages 
but I feel in reading them, as I always felt 
in talking with her, that inevitably she simpli- 
fied too much, shut up in her sick room, 
exercised her wondrous vigour of judgment on 
too small a scrap of what really surrounded 
her. It would have been modified in many 
ways if she had lived with them (the English) 
more seen more of the men, etc. But doubt- 
less it is fortunate for the fun and humour 
of the thing that it wasn't modified as 
surely the critical emotion (about them,) the 
essence of much of their nature, was never 
more beautifully expressed. As for her allusions 
to H. they fill me with tears and cover me with 
blushes. ... I find an immense eloquence in her 
passionate " radicalism " her most distinguish- 
ing feature almost which, in her, was absolutely 
direct and original (like everything that was in 
her,) unreflected, uncaught from entourage or 
example. It would really have made her, had 
she lived in the world, a feminine " political 
force." But had she lived in the world and 
seen things nearer she would have had disgusts 



222 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1894 

and disillusions. However, what comes out in 
the book as it came out to me in fact is that 
she was really an Irishwoman ; transplanted, 
transfigured yet none the less fundamentally 
national in spite of her so much larger and 
finer than Irish intelligence. She felt the Home 
Rule question absolutely as only an Irishwoman 
(not anglicised) could. It was a tremendous 
emotion with her inexplicable in any other 
way but perfectly explicable by "atavism." 
What a pity she wasn't born there and had 
her health for it. She would have been (if, 
always, she had not fallen a victim to disgust 
a large " if ") a national glory ! But I am 
writing too much and my late hindrances have 
left me with tremendous arrears of correspond- 
ence. I thank you, dear Alice, caramente, for 
your sweet letter received two or three weeks 
before William's. I crudely hope you won't 
let your house so as to have it to go to in 
the summer. Otherwise what will become of 
you. I dig my nose into the fleshiest parts of 
the young Francis. Tell Peggy I cling to her 
and to Harry too, and Billy not less. ... I 
haven't sent you " The Yellow Book " on pur- 
pose ; and indeed I have been weeks and weeks 
receiving a copy of it myself. I say on purpose 
because although my little tale which ushers it in 
(" The Death of the Lion ") appears to have 
had, for a thing of mine, an unusual success, 
I hate too much the horrid aspect and company 
of the whole publication. And yet I am again 
to be intimately, conspicuously associated with 
the 2d number. It is for gold and to oblige 
the worshipful Harland (the editor). Wait and 
read the two tales in a volume with 2 or 3 
others. Above all be debout and forgive the 
long reticence of your affectionate 

HENRY. 



AET. 51 TO EDMUND GOSSE 223 



To Edmund Gosse. 

Mr. Gosse and his family, with Mr. A. C. Benson, were 
at this time spending a holiday in Switzerland, apparently 
not without mischance. Stevenson's offending letter is 
to be found among his published correspondence, dated 
from Vailima, July 7, 1894. H. J. misrepresents the 
phrase he quotes. "I decline any longer to. give you 
examples of how not to write " are Stevenson's words. 

Tregenna Castle Hotel, 

St. Ives. 
August 22nd [1894]. 

My dear Gosse, 

I should have been very glad to hear 
from you yesterday if only for the sweet oppor- 
tunity it gives me of crying out that I told you 
so ! It gives me more than this and I didn't 
tell you so ; but I wanted to awfully and I 
only smothered my wisdom under my waist- 
coat. Tell Arthur Benson that I wanted to 
tell him so too that guileless morning at Vic- 
toria : I knew so well, both then and at Delamere 
Terrace, with my half century of experience, 
straight into what a purgatory you were all 
running. The high Swiss mountain inn, the 
crowd, the cold, the heat, the rain, the Germans, 
the scramble, the impossible rooms and the 
still more impossible everything else the hope 
deferred, the money misspent, the weather 
accurst : these things I saw written on your 
azure brows even while I perfidiously prattled 
with your prattle. The only thing was to let 
you do it for one can no more come between 
a lady and her Swiss hotel than between a gentle- 
man and his wife. Meanwhile I sit here looking 
out at my nice, domestic, inexpensive English 
rain, in my nice bad stuffy insular inn, and 
thanking God that I am not as Gosses and Bensons 



224 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1894 

are. I am pretty bad, I recognise but I am 
not so bad as you. I am so bad that I am 
fleeing in a day or two as I hope you will have 
been doing if your ineluctable fate doesn't spare 
you. I stopped on my way down here to spend 
three days with W. E. Norris, which were 
rendered charming by the urbanity of my host 
and the peerless beauty of Torquay, with which 
I fell quite in love. Here I go out for long 
walks on wet moors with the silent Stephen, 
the almost speechless Leslie. In the morning 
I improve the alas not shining hours, in a little 
black sitting-room which looks out into the 
strange area like unto that of the London 
milkman with which this ci-devant castle is 
encompassed and which sends up strange scullery 
odours into my nose. I am very sorry to hear 
of any friends of yours suffering by the Saturday 
Review, but I know nothing whatever of the 
cataclysm. It's a journal which (in spite of the 
lustre you add to it) I haven't so much as seen 
for 15 years, and no echoes of its fortunes ever 
reach me. 

23rd. I broke off yesterday to take a long 
walk over bogs and brambles, and this morning 
my windows are lashed by a wet hurricane. It 
makes me wish I could settle down to a luxurious 
irresponsible day with the Lourdes of your 
appreciation, which lies there on my table still 
uncut. But my " holiday " is no holiday and 
I must drive the mechanic pen. Moreover I 
have vowed not to open Lourdes till I shall 
have closed with a final furious bang the un- 
speakable Lord Ormont, which I have been read- 
ing at the maximum rate of ten pages ten 
insufferable and unprofitable pages, a day. It 
fills me with a critical rage, an artistic fury, 
utterly blighting in me the indispensable prin- 
ciple of respect. I have finished, at this rate, 



ABT. si TO EDMUND GOSSE 225 

but the first volume whereof I am moved to 
declare that I doubt if any equal quantity of 
extravagant verbiage, of airs and graces, of 
phrases and attitudes, of obscurities and alembi- 
cations, ever started less their subject, ever 
contributed less of a statement told the reader 
less of what the reader needs to know. All 
elaborate predicates of exposition without the 
ghost of a nominative to hook themselves to ; 
and not a difficulty met, not a figure presented, 
not a scene constituted not a dim shadow 
condensing once either into audible or into 
visible reality making you hear for an instant 
the tap of its feet on the earth. Of course 
there are pretty things, but for what they are 
they come so much too dear, and so many of 
the profundities and tortuosities prove when 
threshed out to be only pretentious statements 
of the very simplest propositions. Enough, and 
forgive me. Above all don't send this to the 
P.M.G. There is another side, of course, which 
one will utter another day. I have a dictated 
letter from R. L. S., sent me through Colvin, 
who is at Schwalbach with the horsey Duchess 
of Montrose, a disappointing letter in which 
the too apt pupil of Meredith tells me nothing 
that I want to know nothing save that his 
spirits are low (which I would fain ignore,) 
and that he has been an excursion on an English 
man-of-war. The devilish letter is wholly 
about the man-of-war, not a word else ; and 
at the end he says " I decline to tell you any 
more about it ! " as if I had prescribed the 
usurping subject. You shall see the rather 
melancholy pages when you return I must 
keep them to answer them. Bourget and his 
wife are in England again at Oxford : with 
Prevost at Buxton, H. Le Roux at Wimbledon 
etc., it is the Norman conquest beginning afresh. 



226 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES is94 

What will be the end, or the effect, of it ? P. B. 
has sent me some of the sheets (100 pp.) of his 
Outremer, which are singularly agreeable and 
lively. It will be much the prettiest (and I 
should judge kindest) socio-psychological book 
written about the U.S. That is saying little. 
It is very living and interesting. Prevost's 
fetid etude (on the little girls) represents a 
perfect bound, from his earlier things, in the 
way of hard, firm, knowing ability. So clever 
and so common ; no ability to imagine his 
" queenly ' ' girl, made to dominate the world, 
do anything finally by way of illustrating her 
superiority but become a professional cocotte, 
like a fille de portier. 

Pity's akin to love so I send that to Mrs 
Nellie and Tessa and to A. Benson. 

Yours ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Edmund Gosse. 

This refers to an essay by Mr. Gosse on the Norwegian 
novelist Bjornson, prefixed to an English translation of his 
Synnove Solbakken. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Nov. 9th, 1894. 
My dear Gosse, 

Many thanks for the study of the roaring 
Norseman, which I read attentively last night 
without having time, claimed by more intimes 
perusals, for reading his lusty fable. Bjornson 
has always been, I frankly confess, an untended 
prejudice a hostile one of mine, and the effect 
of your lively and interesting monograph has 
been, I fear, to validate the hardly more than 
instinctive mistrust. I don't think you justify 
him, rank him enough hardly quite enough for 
the attention you give him. At any rate he 



AET. 51 TO EDMUND GOSSE 227 

sounds in your picture to say nothing of look- 
ing, in his own ! like the sort of literary foun- 
tain from which I am ever least eager to drink : 
the big, splashing, blundering genius of the 
hit-or-miss, the a pen pres, family without 
perfection, or the effort toward it, without the 
exquisite, the love of selection : a big super- 
abundant and promiscuous democrat. On the 
other hand the impossibly-named Novelle would 
perhaps win me over. But the human subject- 
matter in these fellows is so rebarbatif 
" Mrs. Bang-Tande ! " What a Romeo and Juliet ! 
Have you seen Maurice Barres's last volume 
" Du Sang, de la Volupte et de la Mort ' ' ? That is 
exquisite in its fearfully intelligent impertinence 
and its diabolical Renanisation. We will talk 
of these things all thanks meanwhile for the 
book. 

Yours ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Edmund Gosse. 

Mr. Gosse's study of Walter Pater is included in his 
Critical Kit-kats. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

[Dec. 13th, 1894.] 
My dear Gosse, 

I return with much appreciation the vivid 
pages on Pater. They fill up substantially the 
void of one's ignorance of his personal history, 
and they are of a manner graceful and luminous ; 
though I should perhaps have relished a little 
more insistence on a little more of an inside 
view of the nature of his mind itself. Much 
as they tell, however, how * curiously negative 
and faintly-grey he, after all telling, remains ! 
I think he has had will have had the most 



228 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES i89* 

exquisite literary fortune : i.e. to have taken 
it out all, wholly, exclusively, with the pen (the 
style, the genius,) and absolutely not at all 
with the person. He is the mask without the 
face, and there isn't in his total superficies a 
tiny point of vantage for the newspaper to flap 
his wings on. You have been lively about 
him but about whom wouldn't you be lively ? 
I think you'd be lively about me ! Well, faint, 
pale, embarrassed, exquisite Pater ! He reminds 
me, in the disturbed midnight of our actual 
literature, of one of those lucent matchboxes 
which you place, on going to bed, near the candle, 
to show you, in the darkness, where you can 
strike a light : he shines in the uneasy gloom 
vaguely, and has a phosphorescence, not a flame. 
But I quite agree with you that he is not of the 
little day but of the longer time. 

Will you kindly ask Tessa if I may still come, 
on Saturday ? My visit to the country has been 
put off by a death and if there is a little corner 
for me I'll appear. If there isn't so late no 
matter. I daresay I ought to write to Miss 
Wetton. Or will Tessa amiably inquire ? 

Yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Edmund Gosse. 

The news of Stevenson's death in Samoa reached London 
at this moment, when H. J. was deeply occupied with the 
rehearsals of Guy Domville at the St. James's Theatre. 
" Jan. 5th " was to be the first night of the play. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Dec. 17th, 1894. 
My dear Gosse, 

I meant to wyite you to-night on another 
matter but of what can one think, or utter 
or dream, save of this ghastly extinction of the 



AET. 51 TO EDMUND GOSSE 229 

beloved R.L.S. ? It is too miserable for cold 
words it's an absolute desolation. It makes 
me cold and sick and with the absolute, almost 
alarmed sense, of the visible material quenching 
of an indispensable light. That he's silent for- 
ever will be a fact hard, for a long time, to live 
with. To-day, at any rate, it's a cruel, wringing 
emotion. One feels how one cared for him 
what a place he took ; and as if suddenly into 
that place there had descended a great avalanche 
of ice. I'm not sure that it's not for him a great 
and happy fate ; but for us the loss of charm, 
of suspense, of " fun " is unutterable. And 
how confusedly and pityingly one's thought 
turns to those far-away stricken women, with 
their whole principle of existence suddenly 
quenched and yet all the monstrosity of the rest 
of their situation left on their hands ! I saw 
poor Colvin to-day he is overwhelmed, he is 
touching. But I can't write of this we must 
talk of it. Yet these words have been a relief. 
And I can't write, either, of the matter I 
had intended to viz. that you are to rest 
secure about the question of Jan. 5th I will 
do everything for you. That business becomes 
for the hour tawdry and heartless to me. 
Yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



230 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1894 

To Sidney Colvin. 

H. J. unexpectedly found himself named by Stevenson 
as one of his executors ; but this charge he felt it impossible 
to undertake, on account of his complete inexperience in 
matters of business. The last paragraph of this letter 
refers to a suggestion that the cabled news of Stevenson's 
death might prove to be mistaken. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Dec. 20th, '94. 
My dear Colvin, 

I didn't come, as I threatened, to see 
you this a.m. ; because up to the time I was 
forced (early) to absent myself from home for 
several hours no sign had come from Edinburgh. 
On coming home at 4 o'clock, however, I found 
both a telegram and a letter from Mr. Mitchell. 
The telegram asked for a telegraphic Yea or 
Nay that might instantly be cabled to Baxter 
at Port Said. I immediately wired a profoundly 
regretful, but unconditional and insurmountable 
refusal. The absolute necessity of doing this 
has gathered still more overwhelming force since 
I saw you yesterday if indeed there could 
have been any " still more " when the maximum 
had been so promptly reached. To ease still 
more (at all events) my conscience though 
God knows it was, and is, easy ! I conferred 
last p.m. with a sage friend about the matter, and 
if I had been in the smallest degree unsettled 
some words he dropped about the pecuniary 
liability of executors, under certain new regu- 
lations (in regard to the Revenue &c,) would 
sufficiently have fixed me. But in truth the 
question was not even one to talk of at all 
even to the extent of asking for confirmations. 
I wish the thing could have been otherwise. 
But that is idle. So I have answered Mr. Mit- 
chell's letter, by this evening's post, in a manner 



A ET . 51 TO SIDNEY COLVIN 231 

that leaves no doubt either of my decision or my 
sorrow. There may be something legal for me 
to do to be exonerated : I have inquired. 

And meanwhile comes the torture of such 
phenomena as Dr. Balfour's letter in to-day's 
P.M.G. a torture doubtless only meant (by a 
perverse Providence) to deepen the final pain. 
At any rate it is unsettling to the point of nervous 
anguish or a peu pres. But to whom do I 
say this ? I don't like to think of your horrible 
worry your all but damnable suspense. Don't 
answer this or write me unless you particularly 
want to : I ache, in sympathy, under the letters, 
telegrams, complications of every sort you have 
to meet : that you may find strength to bear 
which is the hearty wish of yours, my dear 
Colvin, more than ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Miss Henrietta Reubell. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
December 31st, 1894. 

Dear Miss Etta, 

This is to wish you a brand-New Year, 
and to wish it very affectionately and to wish 
it of not more than usual length but of more 
than usual fulness. I have had an unacknow- 
ledged letter from you longer than is decorous. 
But I have shown you ere this that epistolary 
decorum is a virtue I have ceased to pretend 
to. And during the last month I have not 
pretended to any other virtue either save an 
endless patience and an heroic resignation, as 
I have been, and still am, alas, in the sorry 
position of having in rehearsal a little play 
3 acts which is to be produced on Saturday 
next, at the St. James's Theatre, as to which I 



232 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1894 

beg you heartily to indulge for me, about 8.30 
o'clock on that evening, in very fervent prayer. 
It is a little " romantic '' play of which the 
action is laid (in England) in the middle of the 
last century, and it will be exquisitely mounted, 
dressed &c., and very creditably acted, as things 
go here. But rehearsal is an ecceurment and 
one's need of heroic virtues infinite. I have 
been in the breach daily for 4 weeks, and am 
utterly exhausted. To-night (the theatre being 
closed for the week on purpose) is the first dress 
rehearsal which is here of course not a public, 
as in Paris, but an intensely private function- 
all for me, me prelassant dans mon fauteuil, 
alone, like the King of Bavaria at the opera. 
There are to be three nights more of this, to give 
them ease in the wearing of their clothes of a 
past time, and that, after the grind of the earlier 
work, is rather amusing as amusing as any- 
thing can be, for a man of taste and sensibility, 
in the odious process of practical dramatic 
production. I may have been meant for the 
Drama God knows ! but I certainly wasn't 
meant for the Theatre. C'est pour vous dire 
that I am much pressed and am only sending 
you mes vceux tres-sinceres in a shabbily briei 
little letter. There are a number of interesting 
things in your last to which I want to respond. 
I send you also by post 3 or 4 miserable little 
(old) views of Tunbridge Wells, which I have 
picked up in looking, at rare leisure moments, 
for one good one for you. I haven't, alas, 
found that ; but I think I am on the track of 
it, and you shall have it as soon as it turns up. 
Accept these meanwhile as a little stop-gap and 
a symbol of my New Year's greeting. ... I 
hope you are in good case and good hope. We 
are having here an excellent winter, almost 
fogless and generally creditable. Write me a 



AET. 51 TO MISS REUBELL 233 

little word of hope and help for the 5th ; I shall 
regard it as a happy influence for yours forever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Jan. 9th, 1895. 
My dear William, 

I never cabled to you on Sunday 6th 
(about the first night of my play,) because, as 
I daresay you will have gathered from some 
despatches or newspapers (if there have been 
any, and you have seen them,) the case was too 
complicated. Even now it's a sore trial to me 
to have to write about it weary, bruised, 
sickened, disgusted as one is left by the intense, 
the cruel ordeal of a first night that after the 
immense labour of preparation and the un- 
speakable tension of suspense has, in a few 
brutal moments, not gone well. In three words 
the delicate, picturesque, extremely human and 
extremely artistic little play was taken pro- 
fanely by a brutal and ill-disposed gallery 
which had shown signs of malice prepense 
from the first and which, held in hand till 
the end, kicked up an infernal row at the 
fall of the curtain. There followed an abomin- 
able quarter of an hour during which all 
the forces of civilization in the house waged 
a battle of the most gallant, prolonged and 
sustained applause with the hoots and jeers 
and catcalls of the roughs, whose roars (like 
those of a cage of beasts at some infernal " zoo ") 
were only exacerbated (as it were) by the 
conflict. It was a cheering scene, as you may 
imagine, for a nervous, sensitive, exhausted 
author to face and you must spare my going 
over again the horrid hour, or those of disappoint- 



234 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1395 

ment and depression that have followed it ; 
from which last, however, I am rapidly and 
resolutely, thank God, emerging. The " papers " 
have, into the bargain, been mainly ill-natured 
and densely stupid and vulgar ; but the only 
two dramatic critics who count, W. Archer and 
Clement Scott, have done me more justice. 
Meanwhile all private opinion is apparently one 
of extreme admiration I have been flooded 
with letters of the warmest protest and assur- 
ance. . . . Everyone who was there has either 
written to me or come to see me I mean every 
one I know and many people I don't. Obviously 
the little play, which I strove to make as broad, 
as simple, as clear, as British, in a word, as 
possible, is over the heads of the usual vulgar 
theatre-going London public and the chance 
of its going for a while (which it is too early 
to measure) will depend wholly on its holding 
on long enough to attract the unusual. I was 
there the second night (Monday, 7th) when, 
before a full house a remarkably good " money " 
house, Alexander told me it went singularly 
well. But it's soon to see or to say, and I'm 
prepared for the worst. The thing fills me with 
horror for the abysmal vulgarity and brutality 
of the theatre and its regular public, which God 
knows I have had intensely even when working 
(from motives as " pure " as pecuniary motives 
can be) against it ; and I feel as if the simple 
freedom of mind thus begotten to return to one's 
legitimate form would be simply by itself a 
divine solace for everything. Don't worry about 
me : I'm a Rock. If the play has no life on the 
stage I shall publish it ; it's altogether the best 
thing I've done. You would understand better 
the elements of the case if you had seen the 
thing it followed (The Masqueraders) and the 
thing that is now succeeding at the Haymarket 



A*r. 51 TO WILLIAM JAMES 235 

the thing of Oscar Wilde's. On the basis of 
their being plays, or successes, my thing is 
necessarily neither. Doubtless, moreover, the 
want of a roaring actuality, simplified to a few 
big familiar effects, in my subject an episode 
in the history of an old English Catholic family 
in the last century militates against it, with all 
usual theatrical people, who don't want plays 
(from variety and nimbleness of fancy) of differ- 
ent kinds, like books and stories, but only of 
one kind, which their stiff, rudimentary, clumsily- 
working vision recognizes as the kind they've 
had before. And yet I had tried so to meet 
them ! But you can't make a sow's ear out of a 
silk purse. I can't write more and don't ask 
for more details. This week will probably deter- 
mine the fate of the piece. If there is increased 
advance-booking it will go on. If there isn't, 
it will be withdrawn, and with it all my little 
hope of profit. The time one has given to such 
an affair from the very first to the very last 
represents in all so inconceivably great, to the 
uninitiated, is the amount a pitiful, tragic 
bankruptcy of hours that might have been 
rendered retroactively golden. But I am not 
plangent one must take the thick with the thin 
and I have such possibilities of another and 
better sort before me. I am only sorry for 
your and Alice's having to be so sorry for yours 
forever, 

HENRY. 



286 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

To George Henschel. 

Answering a suggestion that H. J. should write a 
libretto to be set to music by Sir George Henschel. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

January 22d, 1895. 
My dear Henschel, 

Your flattering dream is beautiful but, 
I fear, alas, delusive. When I say I ' fear ' it, 
I mean I only too completely feel it. It is a 
charming idea, but the root of the libretto is 
not in me. We will talk of it yes : because 
I will talk with you, with joy, of anything 
will even play to myself that I have convictions 
I haven't, for that privilege. But I am un- 
lyrical, unmusical, unrhythmical, unmanageable. 
And I hate " old New England stories " ! 
which are lean and pale and poor and ugly. 
But let us by all means talk and the more 
the better. I am touched by your thinking so 
much good of me and I embrace you, my dear 
Henschel, for such rich practical friendship and 
confidence. I congratulate you afresh on your 
glorious wile, I await you with impatience, and 
I stretch out to you across the wintry wastes 
the very grateful hand of yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To W. D. Howells. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

January 22d, 1895. 
My dear Howells, 

... I am indebted to you for your most 
benignant letter of December last. It lies open 
before me and I read it again and am soothed 
and cheered and comforted again. You put 
your finger sympathetically on the place and 
spoke of what I wanted you to speak of. I 



AST. 51 TO W. D. HOWELLS 237 

have felt, for a long time past, that I have fallen 
upon evil days every sign or symbol of one's 
being in the least wanted, anywhere or by any 
one, having so utterly failed. A new genera- 
tion, that I know not, and mainly prize not, 
has taken universal possession. The sense of 
being utterly out of it weighed me down, and I 
asked myself what the future would be. All 
these melancholies were qualified indeed by one 
redeeming reflection the sense of how little, 
for a good while past (for reasons very logical, 
but accidental and temporary,) I had been 
producing. I did say to myself " Produce again 
produce ; produce better than ever, and all 
will yet be well ; >: and there was sustenance 
in that so far as it went. But it has meant 
much more to me since you have said it for 
it is, practically, what you admirably say. It 
is exactly, moreover, what I meant to admirably 
do and have meant, all along, about this time 
to get into the motion of. The whole thing, 
however, represents a great change in my life, 
inasmuch as what is clear is that periodical 
publication is practically closed to me I'm 
the last hand that the magazines, in this country 
or in the U.S., seem to want. I won't afflict 
you with the now accumulated (during all these 
past years) evidence on which this induction 
rests and I have spoken of it to no creature 
till, at this late day, I speak of it to you. . . . 
All this, I needn't say, is for your segretissimo 
ear. What it means is that " production " for 
me, as aforesaid, means production of the little 
book, pure and simple independent of any ante- 
cedent appearance ; and, truth to tell, now that 
I wholly see that, and have at last accepted it, 
I am, incongruously, not at all sorry. I am 
indeed very serene. I have always hated the 
magazine form, magazine conditions and manners, 



238 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1395 

and much of the magazine company. I hate 
the hurried little subordinate part that one 
plays in the catchpenny picture-book and the 
negation of all literature that the insolence 
of the picture-book imposes. The money-differ- 
ence will be great but not so great after a bit 
as at first ; and the other differences will be so 
all to the good that even from the economic 
point of view they will tend to make up for that 
and perhaps finally even completely do so. It 
is about the distinctness of one's book-position 
that you have so substantially reassured me ; 
and I mean to do far better work than ever I 
have done before. I have, potentially, improved 
immensely and am bursting with ideas and 
subjects though the act of composition is with 
me more and more slow, painful and difficult. 
I shall never again write a long novel ; but I 
hope to write six immortal short ones and 
some tales of the same quality. Forgive, my 
dear Howells, the cynical egotism of these re- 
marks the fault of which is in your own sym- 
pathy. Don't fail me this summer. I shall 
probably not, as usual, absent myself from these 
islands not be beyond the Alps as I was when 
you were here last. That way Boston lies, 
which is the deadliest form of madness. I 
sent you only last night messages of affection 
by dear little " Ned " Abbey, who presently 
sails for N.Y. laden with the beautiful work 
he has been doing for the new Boston public 
library. I hope you will see him he will speak 
of me competently and kindly. I wish all 
power to your elbow. Let me hear as soon as 
there is a sound of packing. Tell Mildred I 
rejoice in the memory of her. Give my love 
to your wife, and believe me, my dear Howells, 
yours in all constancy, 

HENRY JAMES. 



A ET . 51 TO WILLIAM JAMES 239 



To William James. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
February 2nd, 1895. 

. . . The poor little play seems already, thank 
God, ancient history, though I have lived through, 
in its company, the horridest four weeks of my 
life. Produce a play and you will know, better 
than I can tell you, how such an ordeal odious 
in its essence ! is only made tolerable and 
palatable by great success ; and in how many 
ways accordingly non-success may be torment- 
ing and tragic, a bitterness of every hour, rami- 
fying into every throb of one's consciousness. 
Tonight the thing will have lived the whole of 
its troubled little life of 31 performances, and 
will be " taken off," to be followed, on Feb. 5th, 
by a piece by Oscar Wilde that will have probably 
a very different fate. On the night of the 5th, 
too nervous to do anything else, I had the 
ingenious thought of going to some other theatre 
and seeing some other play as a means of being 
coerced into quietness from 8 till 10.45. I went 
accordingly to the Hay market, to a new piece 
by the said O.W. that had just been produced 
" An Ideal Husband." I sat through it and 
saw it played with every appearance (so far as 
the crowded house was an appearance) of com- 
plete success, and that gave me the most fearful 
apprehension. The thing seemed to me so help- 
less, so crude, so bad, so clumsy, feeble and 
vulgar, that as I walked away across St. James's 
Square to learn my own fate, the prosperity 
of what I had seen seemed to me to constitute 
a dreadful presumption of the shipwreck of 
G.D., and I stopped in the middle of the Square, 
paralyzed by the terror of this probability 
afraid to go on and learn more. " How can 



240 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1895 

my piece do anything with a public with whom 
that is a success ? ?: It couldn't but even then 
the full truth was, " mercifully," not revealed 
to me ; the truth that in a short month my 
piece would be whisked away to make room 
for the triumphant Oscar. If, as I say, this 
episode has, by this time, become ancient history 
to me, it is, thank heaven, because when a thing, 
for me (a piece of work,) is done, it's done : I 
get quickly detached and away from it, and am 
wholly given up to the better and fresher life 
of the next thing to come. This is particularly 
the case now, with my literary way blocked 
so long and my production smothered by these 
theatrical lures : I have such arrears on hand 
and so many things seem to wait for me that 
I want far more and that it will be nobler to 
do that I am looking in a very different direc- 
tion than in that of the sacrificed little play. 
Partly for this reason, this receiving from you 
all the retarded echo of my reverse and having 
to live over it with you (you must excuse me if 
I don't do so much,) is the thing, in the whole 
business, that has been most of an anguish 
and that I dreaded most in advance. As for 
the play, in three words, it has been, I think I 
may say, a rare and distinguished private success 
and scarcely anything at all of a public one. 
By a private success, I mean with the even 
moderately cultivated, civilised and intelligent 
individual, with " people of taste " in short, 
of almost any kind, as distinguished from 
the vast English Philistine mob the regular 
;< theatrical public " of London, which, of all 
the vulgar publics London contains, is the 
most brutishly and densely vulgar. This con- 
gregation the things they do like sufficiently 
judge. ... I no sooner found myself in the 
presence of those yelling barbarians of the first 



. si TO WILLIAM JAMES 241 

night and learned what could be the savagery 
of their disappointment that one wasn't per- 
fectly the same as everything else they had 
ever seen, than the dream and delusion of my 
having made a successful appeal to the cosy, 
childlike, naif, domestic British imagination 
(which was what I had calculated) dropped 
from me in the twinkling of an eye. I saw they 
couldn't care one straw for a damned young 
last-century English Catholic, who lived in an 
old-time Catholic world and acted, with every 
one else in the play, from remote and romantic 
Catholic motives. The whole thing was, for 
them, remote, and all the intensity of one's 
ingenuity couldn't make it anything else. It 
has made it something else for the few but 
that is all. Such is the bare history of poor 
G.D. which, I beg you to believe, throws no 
light on my "technical skill" which isn't alight 
that that mystery ought to rejoice to have 
thrown. The newspaper people muddle things 
up with the most foredoomed crudity; and I 
am capable of analysing the whole thing far more 
scientifically and drawing from it lessons far 
more pertinent and practical than all of them 
put together. It is perfectly true that the 
novelist has a fearful long row to hoe to get 
into any practical relation to the grovelling 
stage, and his difficulty is precisely double : 
it bears, on one side, upon the question of method 
and, on the other, upon the question of subject. 
If he is really in earnest, as I have been, he 
surmounts the former difficulty before he sur- 
mounts the latter. I have worked like a horse 
far harder than any one will ever know over 
the whole stiff mystery of " technique " I have 
run it to earth, and I don't in the least hesitate 
to say that, for the comparatively poor and 
meagre, the piteously simplified, purposes of 



242 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1895 

the English stage, I have made it absolutely 
my own, put it into my pocket. The question 
of realising how different is the attitude of the 
theatre-goer toward the quality of thing which 
might be a story in a book from his attitude 
toward the quality of thing that is given to him 
as a story in a play is another matter altogether. 
That difficulty is portentous, for any writer 
who doesn't approach it naively, as only a very 
limited and simple-minded writer can. One has 
to make one's self so limited and simple to con- 
ceive a subject, see a subject, simply enough, 
and that, in a nutshell, is where I have stumbled. 
And yet if you were to have seen my play ! I 
haven't been near the theatre since the second 
night, but I shall go down there late this evening 
to see it buried and bid good-bye to the actors. 
... I am very sorry for Marion Terry, who has 
delighted in her part and made the great hit of 
her career, I should suppose, in it, and who has 
to give it up thus untimely. Her charming 
acting has done much for the little run. . . . 
The money disappointment is of course keen- 
as it was wholly for money I adventured. But 
the poor four weeks have brought me $1,100 
which shows what a tidy sum many times four 
weeks would have brought ; without my lifting, 
as they say, after the first performance, a finger. 
I have written you so long-windedly on this 
matter that I have left neither time nor space 
for anything else. I must catch the post and 
will write more sociably something by the next 
one. One's time, in the whole history, has gone 
like water, and still it pours out. Please don't 
send me anything out of newspapers. 
Always your 

HENRY. 



A ET . 51 TO SIDNEY COLVIN 243 



To Sidney Colvin. 

The first of Stevenson's letters to be published, it will be 
remembered, were the " Vailima Letters " to Sir Sidney 
Colvin. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
Feb. 19th, 1895. 

My dear Colvin, 

I shall send you all the Vailima Letters 
back to-morrow or next day by hand. I have 
completely read them. I can't say, and I don't 
want to say, anything of them but " Publish 
them they make the man so loveable." It's 
on that I should take my stand. I think your 
estimate of them as ranking high in their class 
(epistolary) is perhaps (if I remember what 
you seemed to express of it) a larger one than 
I should concur in ; but I think still more 
that that makes little difference ; for they will 
assuredly be liked immensely, and that is 
mainly what one is concerned to ask for him. 
They are charming, living, touching, absolutely 
natural ; and I think better toward the end 
than at the beginning. What they suffer from 
is : 1 Want of interest and want of clearness 
as to the subject-matter of much of them 
the Samoan personalities, politics, &c ; all to 
me almost squalid and the irritating effect 
of one's sense of his clearing the very ground 
to be able to do his daily work. Want also 
to a certain extent of generalization about all 
these matters and some others into the dreary 
specifics of which the reader perhaps finds himself 
plunged too much. 2 A certain tormenting 
effect in his literary confidences (to you,) glimpses, 
promises, revelations &c., arising from his so 
seldom telling the subject, the idea of the thing 
what he sees, what he wants to do, &c as 



244 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1395 

against his pouring forth titles, chapters, divi- 
sions, names &c, in such magnificent abundance. 
On the other hand the personality shines out 
so beautiful and there are so many charming 
things passages, pages that not to publish 
them would seem to me like the burial of some- 
thing alive. I see but little in what you have 
left in these copies to excise on grounds of .dis- 
cretion, unless it be many of those reports of 
the state of public affairs and allusions to public 
personages which are primarily excisable by 
reason of obscurity, failure to appeal to reader's 
interest, &c. But I should like to see you and 
talk about the matter with you better than 
thus, and shall take the earliest occasion. The 
hideous sadness of them to us ! To readers 
at large no. But I feel as though I had been 
sitting with him for hours. 

Yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Mrs. John L. Gardner. 

Royal Hospital, Dublin. 

March 23d, 1895. 
Dear Isabella Gardner, 

Yes, I have delayed hideously to write 
to you, since receiving your note of many days 
ago. But I always delay hideously, and my 
shamelessness is rapidly becoming (in the matter 
of letter-writing) more disgraceful even than my 
procrastination. I brought your letter with me 
to Ireland more than a fortnight ago with every 
intention of answering it on the morrow of my 
arrival ; but I have been leading here a strange 
and monstrous life of demoralisation and frivolity 
and the fleeting hour has mocked, till today, 
at rhy languid effort to stay it, to clutch it, in 
its passage. I have been paying three monstrous 



. 51 TO MRS. JOHN L. GARDNER 245 

visits in a row ; and if I needed any further 
demonstration of the havoc such things make 
in my life I should find it in this sense of infidelity 
to a charnling friendship of so many years. 

I return to England to enter a monastery 
for the rest of my days and crave your for- 
giveness before I take this step. I have been 
staying in this queer, shabby, sinister, sordid 
place (I mean Dublin,) with the Lord Lieutenant 
(poor young Lord Houghton,) for what is called 
(a fragment, that is, of what is called) the " Castle 
Season," and now I am domesticated with very 
kind and valued old friends, the Wolseleys 
Lord W. being commander of the forces here 
(that is, head of the little English army of 
occupation in Ireland a five-years appointment) 
and domiciled in this delightfully quaint and 
picturesque old structure, of Charles II's time 
a kind of Irish Invalides or Chelsea Hospital 
a retreat for superannuated veterans, out of 
which a commodious and stately residence has 
been carved. We live side by side with the 
140 old red-coated cocked-hatted pensioners 
but with a splendid great rococo hall separating 
us, in which Lady Wolseley gave the other night 
the most beautiful ball I have ever seen a 
fancy-ball in which all the ladies were Sir 
Joshuas, Gainsboroughs, or Romneys, and all 
the men in uniform, court dress or evening hunt 
dress. (/ went as guess what ! alas, nothing 
smarter than the one black coat in the room.) 
It is a world of generals, aide- de-camps and 
colonels, of military colour and sentinel- mount- 
ing, which amuses for the moment and makes 
one reflect afresh that in England those who 
have a good time have it with a vengeance. 
The episode at the tarnished and ghost-haunted 
Castle was little to my taste, and was a very 
queer episode indeed thanks to the incongruity 



246 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

of a vice-regal " court " (for that's what it con- 
siders itself) utterly boycotted by Irish (land- 
lord) society the present viceroy being the 
nominee of a home-rule government, and reduced 
to dreary importation from England to fill its 
gilded halls. There was a ball every night, 
etc., but too much standing on one's hind-legs 
too much pomp and state for nothing and 
nobody. On my return (two days hence) to 
my humble fireside I get away again as quickly 
as possible into the country to a cot beside 
a rill, the address of which no man knoweth. 
There I remain for the next six months to come ; 
and nothing of any sort whatever is to happen 
to me (this is all arranged,) save that you are to 
come down and stay a day or two with me when 
you come to England. There is, alas, to be no 
" abroad " for me this year. I rejoice with you 
in your Rome but my Rome is in the buried 
past. I spent, however, last June there, and 
was less excruciated than I feared. Have you 
seen my old friend Giuseppe Primoli a great 
friend, in particular, of the Bourgets ? I dare 
say you have breakfasted deep with him. May 
this find you perched on new conquests. It's 
vain to ask you to write me, or tell me, anything. 
Let me only ask you therefore to believe me your 
very affectionate old friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 



. 52 TO ARTHUR C. BENSON 247 



To Arthur Christopher Benson. 

The excursion to Windsor was one of several on which 
H. J. conducted Alphonse Daudet and his family during 
their visit to England this spring. The "adorable 
cottage " was the house then occupied by Mr. Benson as 
a master at Eton. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
May llth [1895]. 

My dear Arthur B. 

A quelque chose malheur est bon : my 
very natural failure to find you brought me 
your engaging letter. Strike, but hear me. I 
knew but too well that it would not seem feli- 
citous to you that I should leave a mere card 
at your ravishing bower : but please believe 
that I had no alternative. I weighed the 
question of notifying you in advance weighed 
it anxiously ; but the scale against it was 
pressed down by overwhelming considerations. 
Daudet is so unwell and fatigable and unable 
to walk or to mount steps or stairs (he could 
do Windsor Castle only from the carriage,) 
that I didn't know he would pull through the 
excursion at all and I thought it unfair to 
inflict on you the awkward problem of his getting, 
or not getting, into your house of his getting 
over to Eton at all and of the five other members 
of his family being hurled upon you. We had, 
in fact, only just time to catch our return train. 
Still, I had a sneaking romantic hope of you. 
I should have liked them, hungry for the great 
show, to behold you ! As I turned sadly from 
your " adorable cottage " and got back into 
the carriage A. D. said to me having waited 
contemplatively during my conference with your 
domestic : " Ah, si vous saviez comme ces petits 
coins d'Angleterre m'amusent ! 5: A. C. B. would 
have amused him still more. Content yourself, 



248 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1895 

for the hour, my dear Arthur Benson, with 
66 amusing " a humbler master of Dichtung 
and an equal one, perhaps, of Wahrheit. I 
am delighted you have been thinking of me 
and beg you to be sure that whenever you happen 
to do so, Telepathy, as you say, will happen 
to be in it ! This time, e.g., it was intensely 
in it for you had been peculiarly present to 
me all these last days in connection with my 
alternations of writing to you or not writing to 
you about the projected Thursday at Windsor. 
I wanted to confine myself to the pure feasible 
for Daudet, and yet I wanted (still more) to write 
to you " anyway," as they say in the U.S. And 
I am writing to you q.e.d. So there we are. 
I rejoice in a certain air of happiness in your 
letter. Dine with you some day ? De grand 
cceur after a little after the very lively prac- 
tical preoccupation of the presence of my help- 
less and bewildered Gauls has abated. There 
is a late train from Windsor that would put 
me back after dinner unless I err. Your mother 
has kindly invited me to a party on the 16th 
and I shall certainly go if I survive (and return 
from) the process of taking Daudet down to 
see G. Meredith at Box Hill which has been 
fixed for that day. You won't be there (at 
Lambeth) I ween but if you were, what possi- 
bilities (of the order hinted at above) we might 
discuss in a Gothic embrasure ! 

Respond respond, if ever so briefly, to yours, 
my dear Arthur Benson, for ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



A ET . 52 TO W. E. NORRIS 249 



To W. E. Norris. 

The " American outbreak " was the trouble over the 
question of the Venezuelan frontier. The articles in the 
Times by the late G. W. Smalley (correspondent for 
the journal in New York) did much, in H. J.'s view, to 
preserve the relations between England and the United 
States during this difficult time. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Feb. 4th [1896]. 
My dear Norris, 

Your letter is as good as the chair by your 
study-table (betwixt it, as it were, and the tea- 
stand) used to be ; and as that luxurious piece 
of furniture shall (D.V.) be again. Your news, 
your hand, your voice sprinkle me most refresh- 
ingly with the deep calm of Torquay. It is 
in short in every way good to hear from you, 
so that, behold, for your sweet sake, I perpetrate 
that intensest of my favourite immoralities 
I snatch the epistolary, the disinterested pen 
before (at 10 a.m.) squaring my poor old shoulders 
over the painful instrument that I fondly try 
to believe to be lucrative. It isn't but one 
must keep up the foolish fable to the end. I 
am having in these difficult conditions a very 
decent winter. It is mild, and it isn't wet- 
not here and now ; and it is for me thanks 
to more than Machiavellian cunning, more dinner- 
less than it has, really, ever been. My fireside 
really knows me on some evenings. I forsake 
it too often but a little less and less. So you 
bloom arid smack your lips, while I shrivel 
and tighten my waistband. In spite of my gain 
of private quiet I have suffered acutely by my 
loss of public. The American outbreak has 
darkened all my sky and made me feel, among 
many other things, how long I have lived away 
from my native land, how long I shall (D.V. !) 



250 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isoe 

live away from it and how little I understand 
it today. The explosion of jingoism there is 
the result of all sorts of more or less domestic 
and internal conditions and what is most indi- 
cated, on the whole, as coming out of it, is a 
vast new split or cleavage in American national 
feeling politics and parties a split almost, 
roughly speaking, between the West and the 
East. There are really two civilisations there 
side by side in one yoke ; or rather one civilisa- 
ation and a barbarism. All the expressions of 
feeling / have received from the U.S. (since 
this hideous row) have been, intensely, of course, 
from the former. It is, on the whole, the 
stronger force ; but only on condition of its 
fighting hard. But I think it will fight hard. 
Meanwhile, the whole thing sickens me. That 
unfortunately, however, is not a reason for its not 
being obviously there. It's there all the while. 
But let it not be any more here : I mean in this 
scribblement. My admiration of Smalley is 
boundless, and my appreciation and comfort and 
gratitude. He has really done something and 
will do more for peace and decency. 

I went yesterday to Leighton's funeral a 
wonderful and slightly curious public demon- 
stration the streets all cleared and lined with 
police, the day magnificent (his characteristic 
good fortune to the end ;) and St. Paul's very 
fine to the eye and crammed with the whole 
London world. . . . The music was fine and 
severe, but I thought wanting in volume and 
force thin and meagre for the vast space. 
But what do I know ? 

No, my dear Norris, I don't go abroad I 
go on May 1st into the depths (somewhere) of 
old England. A response to that proposal I 
spoke to you of (from Rome) is utterly impossible 
to me now. I've two novels to write before I 



. 53 TO W. E. NORRIS 251 

can dream of anything else ; and to go abroad is 
to plunge into the fiery furnace of people. So 
either Devonshire or some other place will be 
my six months' lot. I must take a house, this 
time a small and cheap one and I must 
(deride me not) be somewhere where I can, with- 
out disaster, bicycle. Also I must be a little 
nearer town than last year. I'm afraid these 
things rather menace Torquay. But it's soon to 
say I must wait. I shall decide in April or by 
mid- March only. Meanwhile things will clear 
up. I'm intensely, thank heaven, busy. I will, 
I think, send you the little magazine tale over 
which (I mean over whose number of words 
infinite and awful) I struggled so, in Sept. and 
Oct. last, under your pitying eye and with your 
sane and helpful advice. It comes in to me this 
a.m. 

... I hope your daughter is laying up trea- 
sure corporeal in Ireland. I like your dinners 
even I mean in the houses of the other hill- 
people ; and I beg you to feel yourself clung to 
for ever by yours irrepressibly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

Point Hill, 

Play den, Rye. 

July 24th, 1896. 
My dear William, 

.... I wrote you at some length not 
very long since, and my life has been, here, 
so peaceful that nothing has happened to me 
since save an incident terminated this a.m. 
a charming little visit (of 24 hours) from Wendell 
Holmes, who was in admirable youth, spirits, 
health and " form," and whose presence I greatly 
enjoyed. He is or has been having his usual 



252 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1896 

social triumphs in London, was as vivid and 
beautiful as ever about them also seems to 
enjoy much this humble but picturesque little 
place and sails for the U.S. on Aug 22nd. Save 
that he seems to see you rarely and precariously, 
he will carry you good news of me. I have 
only five days more of Point Hill, alas but I 
have solved the problem of not returning on 
Aug. 1st to the stifling London (we are having 
a summer of transcendent droughts and heat 
like last, only more so,) and not on the other 
hand sacrificing precious days to hunting up 
another refuge solved it by taking, for two 
months, the Vicarage at Rye, which is shabby, 
fusty a sad drop from P.H., but close at hand 
to this (15 minutes walk,) and has much of the 
same picturesque view (from a small terrace 
garden behind a garden to sit in, and more 
or less, as here, to eat in) and almost the same 
very moderate loyer. It has also more room, 
and more tumblers and saucepans, and above 
all, at a moment when I am intensely busy, 
saves me a wasteful research. So I shall be there 
from the 29th of this month till the last week 
in September. " The Vicarage, Rye, Sussex," 
is my address. The place, unfortunately, isn't 

Suite up to the pretty suggestion of the name, 
ut this little corner of the land endears itself 
to me and the peace of the country is a balm. 
It is all, about here, most mild and mellow 
and loveable too " relaxing," but that is partly 
the exceptional summer. I have been able, 
every evening, for three months, to dine, at 8, 
on my little terrace. So the climate of England 
is, literally, not always to be sneezed at. But 
the absence of rain threatens a water-famine, 
and the " tub " is a short allowance. With 
Chocorua let, I am at a loss to place you all, 
and only hope you are succeeding better in 



A ET . 53 TO WILLIAM JAMES 253 

placing yourselves. It would delight me to 
hear that Alice is " boarding " somewhere with 
Peggy and the afflicted infant whom I refuse 
to denominate " Tweedy." I hope, at any 
rate, she is getting rest and refreshment of some 
sort. There would be room for two or three 
of you at my Vicarage I wish you were here 
to feel the repose of it. May your summer 
be merciful and your lectures on ne pent plus 
suivies. I say nothing about the political bear- 
garden I fear I pusillanimously keep out of 
it. I am well (absit omen) and interested in 
what I am in and I embrace you all. Ever 
your affectionate 

HENRY. 

To Edmund Gosse. 

The Spoils ofPoyntpn (under the title of The Old Things) 
had begun to appear in the Atlantic Monthly in April 1896. 

The Vicarage, 
Rye. 

August 28th, 1896. 
My dear Edmund, 

Don't think me a finished brute or a 
heartless fiend or a soulless one, or any other 
unhappy thing with a happy name. I have 
pressed your letter to my bosom again and again, 
and if I've not sooner expressed to you how 
I've prized it, the reason has simply been that 
for the last month there has been no congruity 
between my nature and my manners between 
my affections and my lame right hand. A 
crisis overtook me some three weeks ago from 
which I emerge only to hurl myself on this 
sheet of paper and consecrate it to you. I will 
reserve details suffice it that in an evil hour I 
began to pay the penalty of having arranged 
to let a current serial begin when I was too 



254 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1896 

little ahead of it, and when it proved a much 
slower and more difficult job than I expected. 
The printers and illustrators overtook and de- 
nounced me, the fear of breaking down paralysed 
me, the combination of rheumatism and fatigue 
rendered my hand and arm a torture and the 
total situation made my existence a nightmare, 
in which I answered not a single note, letting 
correspondence go to smash in order barely to 
save my honour. I've finished (day before 
yesterday,) but I fear my honour with you 
lies buried in the ruin of all the rest. You will 
soon be coming home, and this will meet or 
reach you God only knows when. Let it take 
you the assurance that the most lurid thing 
in my dreams has been the glitter of your sar- 
castic spectacles. It was charming of you to 
write to me from dear little old devastated 
Vevey as to which indeed you make me feel, 
in a few vivid touches, a faint nostalgic pang. 
I don't want to think of you as still in your 
horrid ice-world (for it is cold even here and I 
scribble by a morning fire ;) and yet it's in my 
interest to suppose you still feeling so all abroad 
that these embarrassed lines will have for you 
some of the charm of the bloated English post. 
That makes me, at the same time, doubly con- 
scious that I've nothing to tell you that you 
will most languish for news of the world and 
the devil no throbs nor thrills from the great 
beating heart of the thick of things. I went 
to town for a week on the 15th, to be nearer 
the devouring maw into which I had to pour 
belated copy ; but I spent the whole time shut 
up in De Vere Gardens with an inkpot and a 
charwoman. The only thing that befell me was 
that I dined one night at the Savoy with F. 
Ortmans fand the P. Bourgets and that|(the 
saidJBourgets but two days in London dined 



. 53 TO EDMUND GOSSE 255 

with me one night at the Grosvenor club. But 
these occasions were not as rich in incident 
and emotion as poetic justice demanded and 
your veal-fed table d'hote will have nourished 
your intelligence quite as much. The only other 
thing I did was to read in the Revue de Paris 
of the 15th Aug. the wonderful article of A. 
Daudet on Goncourt's death a little miracle 
of art, adroitness, demoniac tact and skill, 
and taste so abysmal, judged by our fishlike 
sense, that there is no getting alongside of it 
at all. But I grieve to say I can't send you the 
magazine I saw it only at a club. Doubtless 
you will have come across it. I have this ugly 
house till the end of September and don't expect 
to move from Rye even for a day till then. The 
date of your return is vague to me but if it 
should be early in the month I wonder if you 
couldn't come down for another Sunday. I 
fear you will be too blase, much. For comfort 
my Vicarage is distinctly superior to my eagle's 
nest but, alas, beauty isn't in it. The peace 
and prettiness of the whole land, here, however, 
has been good to me, and I stay on with unabated 
relish. But I stay in solitude. I don't see a 
creature. That, too, dreadful to relate, I like. 
You will have been living in a crowd, and I 
expect you to return all garlanded and odorous 
with anecdote and reminiscence. Mrs Nelly's 
will all bear, I trust, on miraculous healings 
and feelings. I feel far from all access to the 
French volume you recommend. Are you 
crawling over the Dorn, or only standing at the 
bottom to catch Philip and Lady Edmund as 
they drop ? Pardon my poverty and my paucity. 
It is your absence that makes them. Yours, 
my dear Edmund, not inconstantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



256 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1896 

To Jonathan Sturges. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Thursday [Nov. 5, 1896]. 

My dear Jonathan, 

I spill over, this a.m., in a certain amount 
of jubilation all the more that I have your 
little letter of the other day to thank you for. 
One breathes, I suppose the alarmed, anxious, 
prudent part of one. But I don't feel that 
McKinley is the end of anything least of all of 
big provincial iniquities and abuses and bloody 
billionaires. However he's more decent than 
the alternative and your fortune will flow in, 
more regularly ; and mine will permit me to say 
I'm delighted you " accept," and shall see that 
the cold mutton is not too much " snowed under " 
before you come. Only give me a few three 
or four if possible days' notice : then we will 
talk of many things and among them of 
Rudyard Kipling's " Seven Seas," which he has 
just sent me and which I will send you tomorrow 
or next day (kindly guard it,) on the assumption 
that you won't have seen it. I am laid low by 
the absolutely uncanny talent the prodigious 
special faculty of it. It's all violent, without 
a dream of a nuance or a hint of " distinction " ; 
all prose trumpets and castanets and such 
with never a touch of the fiddle-string or a note 
of the nightingale. But it's magnificent and 
masterly in its way, and full of the most insidious 
art. He's a rum 'un and one of the very 
few first talents of the time. There's a vilely 
idiotic reference to his " coarseness " in this 
a.m.'s Chronicle. The coarseness of The Mary 
Gloster is absolutely one of the most triumphant 
" values " of that triumphant thing. How lovely, 
in these sweet days, your Haslemere hermitage 



AET. 53 TO JONATHAN STURGES 257 

must be ! I hope you've still the society of 
your young friend it eases the mind of your 
old one. What you said about Howells most 
true he is very touching. And I feel so remote 
from him ! The little red book is extremely 
charming. Write to me. Tout a vous, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To W. E. Norris. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Dec. 23rd, 1896. 
My dear Norris, 

I respond with joy to your suggestion 
in your beautiful letter of two days ago that 
I shall enable you to find a word from me on 
your table on the darkest a.m. of the year ; 
in the first place because I am much touched 
by your attaching to any word of mine any 
power to comfort or charm ; and in the second 
because I can well measure by my own 
your sense of a melancholy from which you 
must appeal. It is indeed a lugubrious feast 
and a miserable merriment. But it is some- 
thing to spend the evil season by one's own 
poor hearthstone (save that yours is opulent), 
crouching over the embers and chuckling low 
over all the dreadful places where one is not ! 
I've been literally pressed to go to two or three 
one of them in Northumberland ! (the cheek 
of some people !) and the reflection that I might 
be there and yet by heaven's mercy am not, 
does give a faint blush as of the rose to my 
otherwise deep depression. It is a mild, gray, 
rainless, sunless inoffensive sort of Xmas here 
and the shop fronts look rather prettily pink 
and green and golden in the dear dirty old 
London streets and I have ventured into three 
or four but / do it, bless you, for nine and 



258 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1896 

sevenpence halfpenny, all told ! No wonder 
you want epistolary balm if you're already in 
the fifties ! Do you give them diamond neck- 
laces and Arab horses all round ? But Torquay, 
I too intensely felt, has gorgeous ways of its 
own. Really it isn't bad here, for almost every 
one has left town. I have yet had nothing 
worse to suffer than a first night at the Lyceum 
the too great Irvingism of which mainly 
in Ellen Terry's box had been, the same day, 
pleasantly mitigated, in advance, by Tessa Gosse 
in Sheridan's Critic. Tessa had a play and 
acted Mr Puff better than any of her blushing 
fellow- nymphs acted anything else. And on 
New Year's eve I go to her parents for a carouse 
of some sort, and until then, thank God ! I 
don't dine out save on Xmas day. Nor in 
1897 by all that's holy ! ever again ! I have 
been quite smothered with it these two months 
and it's getting far beyond a joke. ... I see 
no literary fry, and languish in incorrigible 
obscurity. I had a fevered dream that The 
Other House might reach a second edition but 
it declines to do anything of the sort, and the 
pauper's grave continues to yawn. Neverthe- 
less as it is assured any way I may go to 
Italy on April 1st. Meanwhile, my dear Norris, 
I think of you with a degree of envy which 
even the manners of Topper scarce avail to 
diminish I mean because you have a beautiful 
home and are so many miles nearer than I am 
to nature. You are also nearer to Miss Norris, 
and that is another advantage, even though it 
does make a hole in 50 ! I have nothing better 
to offer her on Xmas a.m. than the very friendly 
handshake of yours and hers, my dear Norris, 
affectionately and always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AET. 53 TO A. C. BENSON 259 



To Arthur Christopher Benson. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

December 28th, 1896. 
My dear Arthur, 

Your generous letter has, this wild, mild, 
soft, sombre morning, made me feel as if I were 
standing beside you, with my hand on your 
shoulder, in an embrasure of one of the windows 
at that fine old Farnham Castle that I have 
seen (years ago) that look out on the noble 
things you speak of. And the communication 
in question is worthy, exactly, of the things 
in question ; and grave and handsome and 
interesting and touching even as they are. 
" Burn " it, quotha ! it wouldn't have burnt, 
I would have you know : it would have flown 
straight up the chimney and taken, unscathed 
as marble, its invulnerable way to the individual 
for whom it had just been so admirably winged. 
You say to me exactly the right things, and 
you say them to exactly the right person. I 
can't tell you how glad I am for you that you 
have all that highest sanity and soundness 
(though it isn't as if I doubted it !) of emotion, 
full, frank and deep. If there be a wisdom in 
not feeling to the last throb the great things 
that happen to us, it is a wisdom I shall never 
either know or esteem. Let your soul live 
it's the only life that isn't, on the whole, a sell. 
You have evidently been magnificent, and as I 
have my hand on your shoulder I take the 
opportunity of patting you very tenderly on 
the back. That back will evidently carry its 
load and be all the straighter for the as it 
seems to me really quite massive experience. 
I rejoice that the waters have held you up 
they do, always, I think, when they are only 



260 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1896 

deep enough. And all your missings and mem- 
ories and contrasts and tendernesses are a part 
the essence of the very force that is in you to 
live, and to feel again and yet again and 
again ; when, at last, to have so felt will be the 
thing in the world you'll be gladdest to have 
done. 

I don't know, in spite of your compliment, 
whether I am much like Gray, save in the devil 
of a time it takes me to do a thing. What 
keeps me incommunicative, however, is not in- 
difference, but almost a kind of suspense, a fear 
to break by speaking the spell of some 
other spectacle other than that of my own 
fonctionnement. But I respond to the lightest 
touch of a friendly hand, I think I may say ; 
and I haven't the slightest fear of breaking 
any spell in saying to you that I seem to 
myself just now (absit omen!) to fonctionner 
pretty well. I am as occupied and preoccupied 
with work as even my technical temper can 
desire, and out of it something not irremediably 
nauseating will not improbably spring ! I never 
had more intentions what do I say ? more 
ferocities ; I am sitting in my boat and my 
oars rhythmically creak. In short I propose to 
win my little battle and even believe, more 
than hitherto, that I may annex my little pro- 
vince. It will be as small as the Grand Duchy 
of Pumpernickel but there will be room to put 
up a friend. Therefore you must come and stay 
with me there ; in fact I give you rendez-vous 
on the battlefield itself, the moment the day 
is declared. I mix my metaphors but it all 
means that it's all a fight and that the only thing 
that changes is our fighting train. Let us then 
fight side by side, never too far out of sight. 

How I congratulate you on the value of your 
friends ; I mean the particular Davidsons. I 



AET. 53 TO A. C. BENSON 261 

don't know them, but I like them for liking 
you. I think I have a strong sense, too, of the 
beauty and charm of many of the conditions 
in which you are engaged and which have a really 
decorative effect so that the aesthetic sense 
too is pleased on everything that makes you 
minister to the confidence, my dear Arthur, of 
yours very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To the Viscountess Wolseley. 

The reference in the following letter is to a visit paid by 
H. J., with Lady Wolseley, to the elaborately beautiful old 
house of the late C. E. Kempe, the well-known artist of 
church-decoration, at Lindfield, Sussex. 

Dictated. 

S4 De Vere Gardens, W. 

8th March, 1897. 
Dear Lady Wolseley, 

I was so deprived, yesterday, for all 
those beautiful hours, of a word with you away 
from our host that I felt as if I didn't say to you 
a tenth of what I wanted ; which, however, 
will make it all the better for our next meeting 
when I shall overflow like a river fed by melting 
snows. Let these few words, therefore, not 
anticipate the deluge let them only express 
to you afresh my grateful sense of the interest 
and success of our excursion. The whole wonder 
of it was the greater through my wholly unpre- 
pared state, my antecedent inward blank which 
blank is now overscored with images and emotions 
as thick as any page of any of your hospitable 
house-books ever was with visitors' names. The 
man himself made the place more wonderful 
and the place the man. I was greatly affected 
by his courtesy and charm ; and I got after- 
wards, in the evening, a little of the light that I 



262 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1897 

couldn't snatch from you under his nose. What 
struck me most about the whole thing was the 
consummate cleverness : that was the note it 
sounded for me more than any one of the notes 
more imposing, more deep, that an artistic 
creation may throw out. Don't for the world 
and for my ruin ever breathe to him I have 
said it ; but the whole thing, and his taste, are 
far too Germanic, too Teutonic, a business to 
make a medium in which I could ever sink down 
in final peace or take as the domestic and decora- 
tive last word. The element of France and 
Italy are too much out of it and they, to me, 
are the real secret of Style. But we will talk 
of these things heaven speed the day. Do 
have a little of France and a great deal of Italy 
at South Wraxall ; but do have also a great 
deal of the cunning Kempe and of the candid 
too candid companion of your pilgrimage. Don't 
imagine the companion didn't have a most 
sweet and glorious day from which the light, 
even in London dusk again, has not yet wholly 
faded. I hope your security was complete to 
the end, and I am, in earnest hope also of a speedy 
reunion, yours, dear Lady Wolseley, more grate- 
fully, if possible, than ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Miss Frances R. Morse. 

H. J.'s admiration for St. Gaudens's memorial to Col. 
R. G. Shaw, when he afterwards saw it at Boston, found 
expression, it will be remembered, in The American Scene. 

Dictated. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

June 7th, 1897. 
My dear Fanny, 

I have, as usual, endless unacknowledged 
benefits to thank you for after too many days. 



54 TO MISS FRANCES R. MORSE 263 

The last is your letter of the end of March, full 
of interesting substance as always and of things 
that no one else has the imagination or the 
inspiration to tell me. (My allusion to the im- 
agination there is not, believe me, an imputation 
on your exactitude. The light of truth, of 
good solid vivid Boston truth, shines in each 
of your pages.) Especially are you interesting 
and welcome, as I have told you before, I think, 
on the young generations and full-blown, though 
new, existences, that are in possession of a scene 
I knew as otherwise occupied. All the old 
names or most of them appear to be repre- 
sented by the remote posterity of my old acquaint- 
ance. In this remote posterity, however, I take 
an interest and scraps and specimens of it, 
even here, occasionally flash past me. . . . 

I have stayed on in town later than for some 
years past, and though I had, at the end of 
March, all my plans made to go to Italy, have 
put it off till so late that, in a few days, I shall 
have to be content with simply crossing to Paris 
and seeing then what is to be further done. 
London is given up to carpenters and seat- 
mongers being prepared, on an enormous scale 
and a rather unsightly way, for the " circus " 
of the 22d. The circus is already, amid the 
bare benches and the mere bousculade of the 
preparations, a thing to fly from in spite of 
the good young George Vanderbilt's having offered 
me an ample share of a beautiful balcony in 
Pall Mall to see it from. I shall spend the next 
few weeks in some place or places, north of the 
Alps, as yet utterly undefined, and be back in 
England before the summer is over. The voice 
of Venice, all this time, has called very loud. 
But it has been drowned a good deal in the click 
of the typewriter to which I dictate and which, 
some months ago, crept into my existence through 



264 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1397 

the crevice of a lame hand and now occupies 
in it a place too big to be left vacant for long 

Feriods of hotel and railway life. All this time 
am not coming to the great point, which is 
my hope that you may have been able to be 
present (I believe with all my heart of course 
you were) at the revelation of the Shaw Memorial. 
In charity, my dear Fanny, if this be the case, 
do write me a frank word about it. I heard 
from William and Alice more or less on the eve, 
but I fear they will have afterwards just now 
be having too much to do to be able to send 
me many echoes. I daresay that you will, for 
that matter, already have sent me one. I 
receive, as it happens, only this morning, a copy 
of Harper's Weekly with a big reproduction 
of St. Gaudens's bas-relief, which strikes me as 
extraordinarily beautiful and noble. How I 
rejoice that something really fine is to stand 
there forever for R. G. S. and for all the rest 
of them. This thing of St. G.'s strikes me as a 
real perfection, and I have appealed to William 
to send me the finest and biggest photograph 
of it that can be found for such surely have 
been taken. How your spiritual lungs must, 
over it all, have filled themselves with the air 
of the old wartime. Even here I mean simply 
in the depths of one's own being I myself, 
for an hour, seem to breathe it again. But 
the strange thing is that however much, in 
memory and imagination, it may live for one 
again, with all its dim figures and ghosts and 
reverberations and emotions, it appears to belong 
yet to some far away other world and state of 
being. I talked of this the other day with 
Sara Darwin, whose memories are so much 
identical with my own, and it was a relief to do 
so in the absence of all other communications : 
that absence produced by the up-growth, since, 



A ET . 54 TO MISS FRANCES R. MORSE 265 

of a whole generation, which began after the 
end and for which the whole history is as alien 
as the battles of Alexander. But I am writing 
you a long letter when I only meant to wave 
you a hand of greeting and gratitude. Corre- 
spondence is rather heavy to me, for I can tackle 
it only in the margin of time left over after the 
other matters that my machine has to grind. 
I hope your summer promises, and in the midst 
of a peculiar degree, at the present moment, 
of smoky London stuffiness, I envy you for 
I see you in the mind's eye at Beverly the 
element of wide verandahs, cut peaches I mean 
peaches and cream, you know white frocks 
and Atlantic airs. You make me, my dear 
Fanny, in these high lights, quite incredibly 
homesick. . . . Yours very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Mrs. George Hunter. 

Instead of going abroad for the summer, as he had pro- 
posed, H. J. went first to Bournemouth, and from there to 
join his cousin, Mrs. George Hunter, and her daughters at 
Dunwich, near Saxmundham. 

Bath Hotel, Bournemouth. 

Saturday [July 3, 1897]. 
Dearest Elly, 

It is an immense satisfaction to get your 
news and no figure of speech to say that it 
has found me literally on the point of reaching 
out, for it, into the thick twilight of your where- 
abouts. I have had my general silence much 
on my conscience and especially my dumbness 
and darkness to Rosina and Bay, for whom my 
movements must have been enveloped in a 
perfidious mystery that has caused me, I fear, 
to forfeit all their esteem. But let me tell you 
first of all how I rejoice in your good conditions 



266 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iso? 

and in your having found your feet. It was 
"borne in" upon me, on general grounds, that 
Southwold would never do for long, and it is 
charming that you have found so near and so 
nice a substitute. I especially delight (without 
wanting to sacrifice the rest of you) in such a 
letting-down-easy of the Art-Daughters. Please 
give them my tender love and tell them that, 
preposterous as it sounds, I have never, all 
this time, and in spite of the rosiest assevera- 
tions, crossed the channel at all. The nearest 
I have come to it is to have, early last month, 
come down here to the edge of the sea and 
collapsed into the peace and obscurity of this 
convenient corner (long familiar to me,) which, 
having a winter season, is practically empty at 
present. I will tell R. and B. when I see them 
just how it was that I happened to be so false 
it is too long a story now. Suffice it that my 
reasons (for continuing to hug this fat country) 
were overwhelming, and my regrets (at not 
tasting of their brave Bohemia) of the sharpest. 
Moreover all's well that ends well. If I had 
gone abroad I should be abroad now and the 
rest of the summer ; and therefore unable to 
join you on your Suffolk shore or at least 
alight upon you there which is what I shall 
be enchanted to do. You describe a little 
Paradise houris and all ; and I beseech you to 
keep a divan for me there. The only thing is 
that I fear I shan't be able to come till toward 
the end or by the end of the month. I have 
more or less engaged myself (to a pair of friends 
who are coming down here next week for my 
strange as it may seem sweet sake) to remain 
on this spot till toward the 25th. But I will 
come then, and stay as long as you will let me. 
If you can bespeak any quarters for me at the 
inn, in advance, I will take it very kindly of you. 



AET. 54 TO MRS. GEORGE HUNTER 267 

Can they give me a little sitting-room as well as 
a bed-room ? If you can achieve any effective 
[word illegible] at them to do so I shall be very 
grateful. I always need some small literary 
bower other than the British bed-room and 
in this case I would of course " meal " there, 
as that makes them always more zealous. I 
don't know the East Coast to speak of at all 
and I can imagine no more winsome introduction 
to it. I quite yearn to commune with the young 
Parisians. Bravo, McMonnies. Bravo every- 
body especially Grenville. How I shall joy to 
frolic with him in the sand ! Have they seen 
the art-daughters the image of the St. Gaudens 
Shaw ? It is altogether great. William's oration 
was a first-class success. I encircle you all and 
will write again ! 

Ever, my dear Elly, so constantly yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. The oddest trio of coincidences yester- 
day afternoon. I was reading the delightful 
Letters of that peculiarly Suffolk genius (of 
Woodbridge) Edward FitzGerald (" Omar 
Khayyam ") and, just finishing a story in one 
of them about his relations with a boatman 
of Saxmundham (a name seen for the first 
time that struck me by its strangeness and 
handsomeness,) laid down the book and went a 
long walk five miles along this coast, to where, 
in a very picturesque and lonely spot, I met a 
sea-faring man with whom I fraternised. 

" Do you belong to this place ? " 

" Oh no. I've been here five years ; but I 
come from the Suffolk coast Saxmundham." 

" Did you know Mr. FitzGerald ? ' : 

" Know him ? My brother was his boatman ! " 
and he tells me the story ! Then I walk home 
and coming in, find your letter on my table. I 



268 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1397 

tear it open and the first word I see in it in 
your date is Saxmundham I Tableau ! ! ! It 
never rains but it pours ! 



To Edward Warren. 

On returning from Dunwich it was there that he had 
been bicycling with Mr. Warren H. J. heard that Lamb 
House, which he had seen and admired at Rye the year 
before, was unexpectedly vacant. He at once appealed to 
Mr. Warren for professional advice with regard to the con- 
dition of the house, and as this proved satisfactory, secured 
it without delay. 

Dictated. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

15th September, 1897. 
My dear Edward, 

Very kindly read, for me, the enclosed 
which throws an odd coincidental light on the 
very house we talked of, day before yesterday 
(or was it yesterday ?) as we bumped and bounced 
and vainly shifted sides. The place in question 
is none other than the mansion with the garden- 
house perched on the wall ; and though to be 
fairly confronted with the possibility and so 
brought to the point is a little like a blow in the 
stomach, what I am minded to say to you is 
that perhaps you may have a chance to tell me, 
on Friday, that you will be able to take some 
day next week to give me the pleasure of going 
down there with me for a look. I feel as if I 
couldn't think on the subject at all without 
seeing it the subject again ; and there would 
be no such seeing it as seeing it in your company. 
Perhaps I shall have speech of you long enough 
on Friday to enable us to settle a day. / should 
be capable of Monday. I hope you slid gently 
home and are fairly on all fours that is on 
hands and feet again. What a day we should 



54 TO EDWARD WARREN 269 

have had again also I mean this one if 
we had kept it up ! But basta cosi ! it does 
beautifully for your journey. A thousand friend- 
ships to Margaret. Always yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Arthur Christopher Benson. 

The following refers to a manuscript diary of Mr. 
Benson's and to the privately printed Letters and Journals 
of William Cory, author of lonica. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 
September 25th, 1897. 

My dear Arthur, 

Send me by all means the Diary to which 
you so kindly allude nothing could give me 
greater pleasure than to feel I might freely 
and yet so responsibly handle it. I hope it 
contains a record of your Hawarden talk of 
which you speak. 

I shall be very glad indeed of a talk with you 
about W. Cory my impression of whom, on 
the book, you deepen whenever anything so 
utterly unlikely as articulate speech between us 
miraculously comes to pass. I am just drawing a 
long breath from having signed a few moments 
since a most portentous parchment : the lease 
of a smallish, charming, cheap old house in the 
country down at Rye for 21 years ! (One 
would think I was your age !) But it is exactly 
what I want and secretly and hopelessly coveted 
(since knowing it) without dreaming it would 
ever fall. But it has fallen and has a beautiful 
room for you (the "King's Room" George II' s 
who slept there ;) together with every promise 
of yielding me an indispensable retreat from 
May to October. I hope you are not more sorry 
to take up the load of life that awaits, these 
days, the hunch of one's shoulders than I am. 



270 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES iso? 

You'll ask me what I mean by "life." Come 
down to Lamb House and I'll tell you. And 
open the private page, my dear Arthur, to yours 
very eagerly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Mrs. William James. 

Dictated. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

1st December, 1897. 

Dearest Alice, 

It's too hideous and horrible, this long 
time that I have not written you and that your 
last beautiful letter, placed, for reminder, well 
within sight, has converted all my emotion on 
the subject into a constant, chronic blush. The 
reason has been that I have been driving very 
hard for another purpose this inestimable aid 
to expression, and that, as I have a greater 
loathing than ever for the mere manual act, 
I haven't, on the one side, seen my way to inflict 
on you a written letter, or on the other had 
the virtue to divert, till I should have finished 
my little book, to another stream any of the 
valued and expensive industry of my amanuensis. 
I have, at last, finished my little book that is 
a little book, and so have two or three mornings 
of breathing-time before I begin another. Le 
plus clair of this small interval " I consecrate to 
thee!" 

I am settled in London these several weeks 
and making the most of that part of the London 
year the mild, quiet, grey stretch from the mid- 
October to Christmas that I always find the 
pleasantest, with the single defect of its only 
not being long enough. We are having, more- 
over, a most creditable autumn ; no cold to speak 
of and almost no rain, and a morning-room 



AET 54 TO MRS. WILLIAM JAMES 271 

window at which, this December 1st, I sit with 
my scribe, admitting a radiance as adequate 
as that in which you must be actually bathed, 
and probably more mildly golden. I have no 
positive plan save that of just ticking the winter 
swiftly away on this most secure basis. There 
are, however, little doors ajar into a possible 
brief absence. I fear I have just closed one 
of them rather ungraciously indeed, in pleading 
a " non possumus " to a most genial invitation 
from John Hay to accompany him and his 
family, shortly after the new year, upon a run 
to Egypt and a month up the Nile ; he having 
a boat for that same I mean for the Nile part 
in which he offers me the said month's enter- 
tainment. It is a very charming opportunity, 
and I almost blush at not coming up to the 
scratch ; especially as I shall probably never 
have the like again. But it isn't so simple as 
it sounds ; one has on one's hands the journey 
to Cairo and back, with whatever seeing and 
doing by the way two or three irresistible other 
things, to which one would feel one might never 
again be so near, would amount to. (I mean, 
of course, then or never, on the return, Athens, 
Corfu, Sicily the never-seen, etc., etc.) It would 
all " amount " to too much this year, by reason 
of a particular little complication most pleasant 
in itself, I hasten to add that I haven't, all 
this time, mentioned to you. Don't be scared 
I haven't accepted an " offer." I have only 
taken, a couple of months ago, a little old house 
in the country for the rest of my days ! on 
which, this winter, though it is, for such a com- 
modity, in exceptionally good condition, I shall 
have to spend money enough to make me quite 
concentrate my resources. The little old house 
you will at no distant day, I hope, see for your- 
self and inhabit and even, I trust, temporarily 



272 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1897 

and gratuitously possess for half the fun of 
it, in the coming years, will be occasionally to 
lend it to you. I marked it for my own two 
years ago at Rye so perfectly did it, the first 
instant I beheld it, offer the solution of my 
long-unassuaged desire for a calm retreat between 
May and November. It is the very calmest and 
yet cheerfullest that I could have dreamed 
in the little old, cobble- stoned, grass-grown, 
red-roofed town, on the summit of its mildly 
pyramidal hill and close to its noble old church 
the chimes of which will sound sweet in my 
goodly old red- walled garden. 

The little place is so rural and tranquil, and 
yet discreetly animated, that its being within 
the town is, for convenience and immediate 
accessibility, purely to the good; and the 
house itself, though modest and unelaborate, 
full of a charming little stamp and dignity 
of its period (about 1705) without as well as 
within. The next time I go down to see to 
its " doing up," I will try to have a photo- 
graph taken of the pleasant little old-world 
town-angle into which its nice old red-bricked 
front, its high old Georgian doorway and a 
most delightful little old architectural garden- 
house, perched alongside of it on its high 
brick garden-wall into which all these pleasant 
features together so happily " compose." Two 
years ago, after I had lost my heart to it 
walking over from Point Hill to make sheep's 
eyes at it (the more so that it is called Lamb 
House !) there was no appearance whatever 
that one could ever have it ; either that its 
fond proprietor would give it up or that if he 
did it would come at all within one's means. 
So I simply sighed and renounced ; tried to think 
no more about it ; till at last, out of the blue, a 
note from the good local ironmonger, to whom 



A ET 54 TO MRS. WILLIAM JAMES 273 

I had whispered at the time my hopeless passion, 
informed me that by the sudden death of the 
owner and the preference (literal) of his son for 
Klondyke, it might perhaps drop into my lap. 
Well, to make a long story short, it did immedi- 
ately drop and, more miraculous still to say, 
on terms, for a long lease, well within one's 
means terms quite deliciously moderate. The 
result of these is, naturally, that they will " do " 
nothing to it : but, on the other hand, it has 
been so well lived in and taken care of that the 
doing off one's own bat is reduced mainly 
to sanitation and furnishing which latter in- 
cludes the peeling off of old papers from several 
roomfuls of pleasant old top-to-toe wood panelling. 
There are two rooms of complete old oak one 
of them a delightful little parlour, opening by 
one side into the little vista, church-ward, of 
the small old-world street, where not one of 
the half-dozen wheeled vehicles of Rye ever 
passes ; and on the other straight into the garden 
and the approach, from that quarter, to the 
garden-house aforesaid, which is simply the 
making of a most commodious and picturesque 
detached study and workroom. Ten days ago 
Alfred Parsons, best of men as well as best of 
landscape-painters-and-gardeners, went down 
with me and revealed to me the most charming 
possibilities for the treatment of the tiny out- 
of-door part it amounts to about an acre of 
garden and lawn, all shut in by the peaceful 
old red wall aforesaid, on which the most flourish- 
ing old espaliers, apricots, pears, plums and 
figs, assiduously grow. It appears that it's a 
glorious little growing exposure, air, and soil 
and all the things that were still flourishing 
out of doors (November 20th) were a joy to 
behold. There went with me also a good friend 
of mine, Edward Warren, a very distingue 



274 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

architect and loyal spirit, who is taking charge 
of whatever is to be done. So I hope to get in, 
comfortably enough, early in May. In the mean- 
time one must " pick up " a sufficient quantity 
of ancient mahogany-and-brass odds and ends 
a task really the more amusing, here, where 
the resources are great, for having to be thriftily 
and cannily performed. The house is really 
quite charming enough in its particular character, 
and as to the stamp of its period, not to do 
violence to by rash modernities ; and I am 
developing, under its influence and its inspira- 
tion, the most avid and gluttonous eye and most 
infernal watching patience, in respect of lurking 
"occasions" in not too-delusive Chippendale and 
Sheraton. The "King's Room" will be especially 
treated with a preoccupation of the comfort 
and aesthetic sense of cherished sisters-in-law ; 
King's Room so-called by reason of George 
Second having passed a couple of nights there 
and so stamped it for ever. (He was forced 
ashore, at Rye, on a progress somewhere with 
some of his ships, by a tempest, and accom- 
modated at Lamb House as at the place in the 
town then most consonant with his grandeur. 
It would, for that matter, quite correspond to 
this description still. Likewise the Mayors of 
Rye have usually lived there ! Or the persons 
usually living there have usually become mayors ! 
That was conspicuously the case with the late 
handsome old Mr. Bellingham, whose son is my 
landlord. So you see the ineluctable dignity in 
store for me.) But enough of this swagger. I 
have been copious to copiously amuse you. 

Your beautiful letter, which I have just read 
over again, is full of interest about you all ; 
causing me special joy as to what it says of 
William's present and prospective easier con- 
ditions of work, relinquishment of laboratory, 



. 54 TO MRS. WILLIAM JAMES 275 

refusal of outside lectures, etc., and of the general 
fine performance, and promise, all round, of the 
children. What you say of each makes me 
want to see that particular one most. ... I 
had a very great pleasure the other day in a 
visit, far too short only six hours from dear 
old Howells, who did me a lot of good in an 
illuminating professional (i.e. commercial) way, 
and came, in fact, at quite a psychological 
moment. I hope you may happen to see him 
soon enough to get from him also some echo 
of me such as it may be. But, my dear Alice, 
I must be less interminable. Please tell William 
that I have two Syracuse " advices," as yet 
gracelessly unacknowledged I mean to him 
to thank him for. It's a joy to find these par- 
ticular months less barren than they used to be. 
I embrace you tenderly all round and am yours 
very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Miss Grace Norton. 
Dictated. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Christmas Day, 1897. 
My dear Grace, 

Is it really a year ? I have been acutely 
conscious of its getting to be a horrible time, 
but it hadn't come home to me that it was taking 
on quite that insolence. Well, you see what 
the years since years il y a are making of me : 
I don't write to you for a hideous age, and then, 
when at last I do, I take the romantic occasion 
of this particular day to write in this unsympa- 
thetic ink. But that is exactly what, as I say, 
the horrid time has made of me. The use of 
my hand, always difficult, has become impossible 
to me ; and since I am reduced to dictation, 



276 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1897 

this form of dictation is the best. May its 
distinctness make up for its indirectness. . . . 
I dare say that, from time to time, you hear 
something of me from William ; and you know, 
by that flickering light, that my life has had, 
for a long time past, a very jog-trot sort of 
rhythm. I have ceased completely to "travel." 
It is going on into four years since I have crossed 
the Channel ; and the day is not yet. This 
will give you a ghastly sense of the insular object 
that I must have become ; however, I shall 
break out yet, perhaps, and surprise you. Mean- 
while, none the less, I was unable, these last 
days, to break the spell of immobility even to 
the extent of going over to Paris to poor Daudet's 
funeral. I felt that, la-bas by which I mean 
in the immediate house a certain expectation 
rested on me, but I looked it straight in the 
face and cynically budged not. I dislike, more 
and more, the terrific organised exploitation, in 
Paris, on the occasion of death and burial, of 
every kind of personal privacy and every kind 
of personal hysterics. It is newspaperism and 
professionalism gone mad in a way all its own ; 
and I felt as if / should go mad if I even once 
more, let alone twenty times more, heard Daudet 
personally compared (more especially facially 
compared, eyeglass and all) to Jesus Christ. 
Not a French notice of him that I have seen 
but has plumped it coquettishly out. I had not 
seen him, thanks to my extreme recalcitrance, 
since the month he spent more than two years 
ago in London. His death was not unhappy 
was indeed too long delayed, for all his later 
time has been sadly (by disease, borne with 
wonderful patience and subtlety) blighted and 
sterilized. Yet it is a wonderful proof of what a 
success his life had been that it had remained a 
success in spite of that. It was the most worked 



AET. 54 TO MISS GRACE NORTON 277 

thing that ever was I mean his whole career. 
His talent was so great that I feel, as to his work, 
that the best of it will quite intensely remain. 
But he was a queer combination of a great 
talent with an absence of the greater mind, as 
it were the greater feeling. 

. . . Well, my dear Grace, I can't tell you 
the comfort and charm it is to be talking with 
you even by this horrid machinery, and to 
squeeze the little round golden orange of your 
note dry of every testimony to your honoured 
tranquillity that I can gouge out of it. My 
metaphors are mixed, but my fidelity is pure. 
How is the mighty Montaigne ? I don't read 
him a millionth part as much as I ought, for of 
all the horrors of London almost the worst 
horror is the way it conspires against the evening 
book under the evening lamp. I don't " go 
out " and yet, far too much of the time, I am 
out. The main part of the rest I devote to 
wondering how I got there. A propos of which, 
as much as anything, do you read Maurice 
Barres ? If you do, his last thing, Les Deracines, 
is very curious and serious, but a gruesome 
picture of young France. If it didn't sound 
British and Pharisaic I would almost risk saying 
that, on all the more and more showing, young 
and old France both seem to me to be in a strange 
state of moral and intellectual decomposition. 
But this isn't worth saying without going into 
the detail of the evidence and that would take 
me too far. Then there is Leslie Stephen and 
the little Kiplings. Leslie seems to be out- 
weathering his woes in the most extraordinary 
way. His health is literally better than it was 
in his wife's lifetime, and is perhaps, more almost 
than anything else, a proof of what a life-pre- 
server in even the wildest waves is the perfect 
possession of a metier. His admirable habit 



278 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1397 

and knowledge of work have saved him. . . . 
Rudyard and his wife and offspring depart 
presently for South Africa. They have settled 
upon a small propriete at Rottingdean near the 
[Burne-Jones's], and the South Africa is but a 
parenthetic family picnic. It would do as well as 
anything else, perhaps, if one still felt, as one 
used to, that everything is grist to his mill. I 
don't, however, think that everything is, as the 
affair is turning out, at all ; I mean as to the 
general complexity of life. His Ballad future 
may still be big. But my view of his prose 
future has much shrunken in the light of one's 
increasingly observing how little of life he can 
make use of. Almost nothing civilised save 
steam and patriotism and the latter only in 
verse, where I hate it so, especially mixed up with 
God and goodness, that that half spoils my en- 
joyment of his great talent. Almost nothing 
of the complicated soul or of the female form 
or of any question of shades which latter con- 
stitute, to my sense, the real formative literary 
discipline. In his earliest time I thought he 
perhaps contained the seeds of an English 
Balzac ; but I have quite given that up in pro- 
portion as he has come steadily from the less 
simple in subject to the more simple from the 
Anglo-Indians to the natives, from the natives 
to the Tommies, from the Tommies to the 
quadrupeds, from the quadrupeds to the fish, 
and from the fish to the engines and screws. . . . 
Goodbye, my dear Grace. Believe that 
through all fallacious appearances of ebb and 
flow, of sound and silence, of presence and 
absence, I am always constantly yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



RYE 

(1898-1903) 

The first five years that Henry James^ spent 
at Rye were the least eventful and the most 
serenely occupied of his life. Even at the height 
of his London activities he had always clung 
fast to his daily work ; and now that his whole 
time was his own, free from all interruptions 
save those invited by his own hospitality, he 
lived in his writing with a greater concentra- 
tion than ever before. His letters shew indeed 
that he could still be haunted occasionally by 
the thought of the silence with which his books 
were received by the public at large an indiff- 
erence, it must be said, which he was always 
inclined to exaggerate ; but these misgivings were 
superficial in comparison with the deep joy of sur- 
render to his own genius, now at the climax of its 
power. He was satisfied at length with his 
mastery of his instrument ; he knew perfectly what 
he wished to do and knew that he could do it ; and 
the long mornings of summer in the pleasant 
old garden-room of Lamb House, or of winter 
in his small southern study indoors, were perhaps 
the best, the most intimately contenting hours he 
had ever passed. He was now confirmed in 
the habit of dictation, and never again wrote 

279 



280 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1898-1903 

his books with his own hand except under special 
stress. At Rye or in London his secretary 
would be installed at the typewriter by ten 
o'clock in the morning, and for three or 
four hours he would pace the room, pausing, 
hesitating, gradually massing and controlling 
the stream of his imagination, till at a favour- 
ing moment it rolled forward without a check. 
So, in these five years, the most characteristic 
works of his later maturity were produced. 
They began with The Awkward Age, The Sacred 
Fount, and many short stories presently collected 
in The Soft Side and The Better Sort ; and they 
culminated, still within the limit of this short 
period, with the great triad of novels that were 
to crown the long tale of his fiction The Am- 
bassadors, The Wings of the Dove, The Golden 
Bowl. 

With his life at Rye, too, his correspondence 
with his family and his friends began to spread 
out in an amplitude of which the following 
selection can give at the best a very imperfect 
idea. The rich apologies for silence and back- 
wardness that preface so many of his letters 
must be interpreted in the light, partly indeed 
of his natural luxuriance of phraseology, but 
much more of his generous conception of the 
humblest correspondent's claim on him for re- 
sponse. He could not answer a brief note of 
friendliness but with pages of abounding elo- 
quence. He never dealt in the mere small change 
of intercourse ; the post-card and the half-sheet 
did not exist for him ; a few lines of enquiry 
would bring from him a bulging packet of manu- 
script, overwhelming in its disproportion. No 
wonder that with this standard of the meaning 
of a letter he often groaned under his postal 
burden. He discharged himself of it, in general, 
very late at night ; the morning's work left 



1898-1903 RYE 281 

him too much exhausted for more composition 
until then. At midnight he would sit down 
to his letter-writing and cover sheet after sheet, 
sometimes for hours, with his dashing and not 
very readable script. Occasionally he would 
give up a day to the working off of arrears 
by dictation, seldom omitting to excuse himself 
to each correspondent in turn for the infliction 
of the " fierce legibility " of type. The number 
of his letters was in fact enormous, and even 
within the limits of the present selection they 
form a picture of his life at Rye to which there 
is little to add. 

He had intended Lamb House to be a retreat 
from the pressure of the world, but it need 
hardly be said that from the first it was thrown 
open to his friends with hospitable freedom. 
In the matter of entertainment his standard 
again was munificently high, and the conse- 
quences it entailed were sometimes weightier 
than he found to his liking. But once more it is 
necessary to read his laments over his violated 
hermitage with many reserves. Lonely as he 
was in his work, he was not made for any other 
kind of solitude ; he needed companionship, 
and soon missed it when it was withdrawn. 
After a few experiments he discovered that the 
isolation of the winter at Rye by no means agreed 
with him ; for the short days and long evenings 
he preferred Pall Mall, where (after letting his 
flat in Kensington) he engaged a permanent 
lodging at the Reform Club. He could thus 
divide the year as he chose between London 
and Rye, and the arrangement was so much 
to his liking that in five years he made only 
one long absence from home. In 1899 he returned 
again to Italy for the summer, paying a visit 
on the way to M. and Mme. Bourget at Hyeres. 
At Rome many associations were recalled for 



282 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1398-1903 

him by a suggestion that he should write the 
life of William Wetmore Story, his friend and 
host of twenty years before a suggestion carried 
out somewhat later in a book filled, as he said, 
with the old Roman gold-dust of the seventies. 
He brought back new impressions also from a 
visit to Mrs. Humphry Ward at Castel Gandolfo 
where she and her family were spending some 
weeks at the Villa Barberini, on the ridge between 
the Roman Campagna and the Alban lake and 
another to Marion Crawford at Sorrento. He 
stayed briefly at Florence and Venice, and re- 
turned home to find a special reason awaiting him 
for renewed application to work. He had taken 
Lamb House on a lease, but the death of its 
owner now made it necessary to decide whether 
he should purchase it outright. He paid the 
price without hesitation ; he was by this time 
deeply attached to the place and he seized the 
chance of making it his own. The earnings of 
his work would not go far towards paying for 
it, but he felt it all the more urgent to concentrate 
upon production for some time to come. He 
did not leave England again till four years 
later, nor his own roof for more than a tew 
days now and then. 

By far the greatest of all his interests, outside 
his work, was the opportunity he now had of 
seeing more than hitherto of his elder brother 
and his household. In the autumn of 1899 
Professor and Mrs. William James came to 
Europe for a visit of two years, and during that 
time the brothers were together in London or 
at Lamb House as often as possible. Unfortun- 
ately it was the state of his health that had made 
a long holiday desirable for William James, 
and most of the time had to be spent by him in 
a southern climate, in Italy or on the Riviera. 
Nevertheless it was a deep delight to the younger 



1898-1903 RYE 283 

brother to feel able to share the life of the elder 
at nearer range. They were curiously unlike 
in their whole cast of mind ; nothing could have 
been further from Henry James's massive and 
ruminatory imagination than his brother's quick- 
footed, freely-ranging, experimental genius. But 
their devotion to each other grew only the closer 
as their intellectual lives diverged ; and as they 
approached old age together, there was still 
something protective in William James's attitude, 
and in Henry something that appealed to his 
brother, and to his brother only, for moral 
support and reassurance. The next generation, 
moreover, were by this time growing up and were 
beginning to take a place in Henry James's life 
that was a source of ever-increasing pride and 
pleasure to him. From now onward there was 
nothing he so welcomed as the recurring visits 
to Lamb House of one or other of his elder 
brother's children. William James was again 
in Europe in 1902, delivering at Edinburgh 
the lectures that presently appeared as The 
Varieties of Religious Experience. 

It was now all but twenty years since Henry 
had last seen America, and the desire once more 
to visit his country began to stir obscurely in 
his mind. The idea was long pondered and 
circuitously approached, but it will be seen from 
one of the following letters that it had become 
definite in 1903. Long absence had made a 
return seem a formidable adventure, and it 
was not in his nature to undertake it without 
many scruples and debates. In the midst of 
these his mind was gradually made up and the 
journey determined upon for 1904. 



To W. D. Howells. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

January 28th, 1898. 

My dear Howells, 

Too long, too long have I delayed to 
thank you for your last good letter ; yet if I've 
been thus guilty the fault as it were ! the deep 
responsibility is largely your own. It all comes 
from that wonderful (and still-in-my-ears re- 
verberating) little talk we had that morning 
here in the soft lap, and under the motherly 
apron, of the dear old muffling fog which 
will have kept every one else from hearing ever 
and only let me hear, and have been heard ! 
I mean that the effect of your admirable counsel 
and comfort was from that moment to give 
me the sense of being, somehow, suddenly, 
preposterously, renewingly and refreshingly, at a 
kind of practical high pressure which has well, 
which has simply, my dear Howells, made all the 
difference! There it is. It is the absurd, dizzy 
consciousness of this difference that has con- 
stituted (failing other things !) an exciting, absorb- 
ing feeling of occupation and preoccupation 
and thereby paralysed the mere personal activity 
of my pen. . . 

I hope you have by this time roared and not 
wholly with rage and despair ! through the 
tunnel of your dark consciousness of return. I 
dare say you are now quite out on the flowery 
meads of almost doubting of having been away. 

284 



. 54 TO W. D. HOWELLS 285 

This makes me fear your promise to come back 
right soon next summer may even now have 
developed an element of base alloy. I rushed 
off to see Mrs. Harland the instant I heard she 
was back, and got hold of you and of Mildred 
for five minutes (and of all the handsomest parts 
of both of you) in her talk. She had left a dying 
mother, however, and her general situation has, 
I fear, its pressure and pinch. What an interest 
indeed your boy's outlook must be to you ! 
But, as you say seeing them commence ! 
Well, they never commenced before ; and the 
pain is all in us not out of us. The thing is to 
keep it in. But this scrawl or sprawl is about 
all my poor hand can now sustainedly perpetrate ; 
if I continue I shall have to clamour for a mount 
a lift my brave boy of the alphabetic hoofs. 
But I spare you those caracoles. I greet you 
each again, affectionately, and am yours, my 
dear Howells, intensely, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Arthur Christopher Benson. 

The origin of The Turn of the Screw in an anecdote told 
him by Archbishop Benson is described in the preface 
that H. J. wrote for it when it appeared in the collected 
edition of his works. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

March llth, 1898. 
My dear Arthur, 

I suppose that in the mysterious scheme 
of providence and late such an inspiration as 
your charming note out of the blue ! of a 
couple of days ago, is intended somehow to make 
up to me for the terror with which my earlier 
in fact all my past productions inspire me, 
and for the insurmountable aversion I feel to 
looking at them again or to considering them 



286 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

in any way. This morbid state of mind is really 
a blessing in disguise for it has for happy 
consequences that such an incident as your 
letter becomes thereby extravagantly pleasant 
and gives me a genial glow. All thanks and 
benedictions I shake your hand very hard- 
er would do so if I could attribute to you any- 
thing so palpable, personal and actual as a hand. 
Yet I shall never write a sequel to the P. ofanL. 
admire my euphonic indefinite article. It's all 
too faint and far away too ghostly and ghastly 
and I have bloodier things en tete. I can do 
better than that ! 

But a propos, precisely, of the ghostly and 
ghastly, I have a little confession to make to 
you that has been on my conscience these three 
months and that I hope will excite in your 
generous breast nothing but tender memories 
and friendly sympathies. 

On one of those two memorable never to be 
obliterated winter nights that I spent at the 
sweet Addington, your father, in the drawing- 
room by the fire, where we were talking a little, 
in the spirit of recreation, of such things, repeated 
to me the few meagre elements of a small and 
gruesome spectral story that had been told him 
years before and that he could only give the 
dimmest account of partly because he had 
forgotten details and partly and much more 
because there had been no details and no coherency 
in the tale as he received it, from a person who 
also but half knew it. The vaguest essence 
only was there some dead servants and some 
children. This essence struck me and I made 
a note of it (of a most scrappy kind) on going 
home. There the note remained till this autumn, 
when, struck with it afresh, I wrought it into a 
fantastic fiction which, first intended to be of 
the briefest, finally became a thing of some 



. 54 TO ARTHUR C. BENSON 287 

length and is now being " serialised " in an Ameri- 
can periodical. It will appear late in the spring 
(chez Heinemann) in a volume with one other 
story, and then I will send it to you. In the 
meanwhile please think of the doing of the thing 
on my part as having sprung from that kind 
old evening at Addington quite gruesomely 
as my unbridled imagination caused me to see 
the inevitable development of the subject. It 
was all worth mentioning to you. I am very 
busy and very decently fit and very much yours, 
always, my dear Arthur, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

The following letter was written immediately before the 
outbreak of war between Spain and the United States. 

Dictated. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

20 April, 1898. 
My dear William, 

There are all sorts of intimes and con- 
fidential things I want to say to you in acknow- 
ledgment of your so deeply interesting letter 
of April 10th received yesterday ; but I must 
break the back of my response at least with this 
mechanical energy ; not having much of any 
other by which I mean simply too many odd 
moments at my disposal just now. I do answer 
you, alas, almost to the foul music of the cannon. 
It is this morning precisely that one feels the fat 
to be at last fairly in the fire. I confess that 
the blaze about to come leaves me woefully 
cold, thrilling with no glorious thrill or holy 
blood-thirst whatever. I see nothing but the 
madness, the passion, the hideous clumsiness 
of rage, of mechanical reverberation ; and I 
echo with all my heart your denouncement of 



288 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

the foul criminality of the screeching newspapers. 
They have long since become, for me, the danger 
that overtops all others. That became clear 
to one, even here, two years ago, in the Vene- 
zuela time ; when one felt that with a week of 
simple, enforced silence everything could be 
saved. If things were then saved without it, 
it is simply that they hadn't at that time got 
so bad as they are now in the U.S. My sympathy 
with you all is intense the whole horror must 
so mix itself with all your consciousness. I am 
near enough to hate it, without being, as you 
are, near enough in some degree, perhaps, to 
understand. I am leading at present so quiet 
a life that I don't measure much the sentiment, 
the general attitude around me. Much of it 
can't possibly help being Spanish and from 
the " European " standpoint in general Spain 
must appear savagely assaulted. She is so quiet 
publicly and politically so decent and pictur- 
esque and harmless a member of the European 
family that I am bound to say it argues an 
extraordinary illumination and a very predeter- 
mined radicalism not to admire her pluck and 
pride. But publicly, of course, England will 
do nothing whatever that is not more or less 
negatively for our benefit. I scarcely know 
what the newspapers say beyond the Times, 
which I look at all for Smalley's cables : so 
systematic is my moral and intellectual need of 
ignoring them. One must save one's life if one 
can. The next weeks will, however, in this 
particular, probably not a little break me down. 
I must at least read the Bombardment of Boston. 
May you but scantly suffer from it ! ... 

I rejoice with intense rejoicing in everything 
you tell me of your own situation, plans, arrange- 
ments, honours, prospects into all of which I 
enter with an intimacy of participation. Your 



AST. 55 TO WILLIAM JAMES 289 

election to the Institut has, for me, a surpassing 
charm I simply revel and, as it were, wallow 
in it. Je m'y vautre. But oh, if it could 
only have come soon enough for poor Alice to 
have known it such a happy little nip as it 
would have given her ; or for the dear old 
susceptible Dad ! But things come as they 
can and I am, in general, lost in the daily 
miracle of their coming at all : I mean so many 
of them few as that many may be : and I 
speak above all for myself. I am lost, moreover, 
just now, in the wonder of what effect on 
American affairs, of every kind, the shock of 
battle will have. Luckily it's of my nature 
though not of my pocket always to be pre- 
pared for the worst and to expect the least. 
Like you, with all my heart, I have "finance 
on the brain." At least I try to have it 
with a woeful lack of natural talent for the 
same. It is none too soon. But one arrives 
at dates, periods, corners of one's life : great 
changes, deep operations are begotten. This 
has more portee than I can fully go into. I 
shall certainly do my best to let my flat when I 
am ready to leave town ; the difficulty, this 
year, however, will be that the time for "season" 
letting begins now, and that I can't depart for 
at least another month. Things are not ready 
at Rye, and won't be till then, with the limited 
local energy at work that I have very wisely 
contented myself with turning on there. It 
has been the right and much the best way in 
the long run, and for one's good little relations 
there ; only the run has been a little longer. The 
remnant of the season here may be difficult 
to dispose of to a sub-lessee ; and my books 
only a part of which I can house at Rye are 
a complication. However, I shall do what I 
can this year ; and for subsequent absences, 



290 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

so long as my present lease of De Vere Gardens 
runs, I shall have the matter on a smooth, 
organised, working basis. I mean to arrange 
myself always to let being, as such places go, 
distinctly lettable. And for my declining years 
I have already put my name down for one of 
the invaluable south-looking, Carlt on- Gardens- 
sweeping bedrooms at the Reform Club, which 
are let by the year and are of admirable and 
convenient (with all the other resources of 
the place at one's elbow) general habitability. 
The only thing is they are so in demand that 
one has sometimes a long time to await one's 
turn. On the other hand there are accidents 
"occasions." . . . I embrace you all Alice longer 
than the rest and am with much actuality 
of emotion, ever your 

HENRY. 



To Miss Muir Mackenzie. 

Miss Muir Mackenzie, who was staying at Winchelsea, 
had reported on the progress of the preparations at Lamb 
House. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

Thursday [May 19, 1898], 

Dear Miss Muir Mackenzie, 

Forgive the constant pressure which has 
delayed the expression of my gratitude for 
your charming, vivid, pictorial report of well, 
of everything. It was most kind of you to 
paddle again over to Rye to minister to my 
anxieties. You both assuage and encourage 
them but with the right thing for each. I am 
content enough with the bathroom but hope- 
less about the garden, which I don't know what 
to do with, and shall never, never know. I am 
densely ignorant only just barely know dahlias 
from mignonette and shall never be able to 



AST. 55 TO MISS MUIR MACKENZIE 291 

work it in any way. So I shan't try but 
remain gardenless only go in for a lawn ; which 
requires mere brute force no intellect ! For 
the rest I shall do decently, perhaps so far as 
one can do for two-and-ninepence. I shall have 
nothing really " good " only the humblest old 
fifth-hand, 50th hand, mahogany and brass. 
I have collected a handful of feeble relics but 
I fear the small desert will too cruelly inter- 
space them. Well, speriamo. I'm very sorry 
to say that getting down before Saturday has 
proved only the fondest of many delusions. 
The whole place has to be matting-ed before 
the ricketty mahogany can go in, and the end 
of that or, for aught I know, the beginning is 
not yet. I have but just received the " esti- 
mate " for the (humblest) window-curtains (two 
tiers, on the windows, instead of blinds : white 
for downstairs etc., greeny-blue for up, if you 
like details,) and the " figure " leaves me pro- 
strate. Oh, what a tangled web we weave ! 
Still, I hope you, dear lady, have a nice tangled 
one of some sort to occupy you such a day as 
this. I think of you, on the high style of your 
castled steep, with tender compassion. I scarce 
flatter myself you will in the hereafter again 
haunt the neighbourhood ; but if you ever do, 
I gloat over the idea of making up for the shame 
of your having gone forth tea-less and toast-less 
from any door of mine. I wish that, within 
it my door we might discuss still weightier 
things. Of an ordinary a normal year, I hope 
always to be there in May. 

Deeply interesting your Winchelsea touches 
especially so the portrait of my future colleague 
confrere the Mayor for the inhabitants of 
Lamb House have always been Mayors of Rye. 
When I reach this dignity I will appoint you 
my own Sketcher-in-Chief and replace for you 



292 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

by Chateau Ypres (the old Rye stronghold) 
the limitations of Chateau Noakes. I express 
to you fresh gratitude and sympathy, and am 
yours, dear Miss Muir Mackenzie, most cordially, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Gaillard T. Lapsley. 

Dictated. 

34 De Vere Gardens, W. 

17th June, 1898. 
My dear G. T. L. 

I am very unhappy and humiliated at 
not having succeeded in again putting my hand 
on you, and the fear that you may possibly have 
departed altogether is a fearful aggravation of 
my misery. Therefore I am verily stricken 
so stricken as to be incapable of holding a pen 
and to be reduced to this ugly by which I 
mean this thoroughly beautiful substitute. If 
I wait for a pen, God knows when or where I 
shall overtake you. Accordingly, in my effort 
to catch up, I let Remington shamelessly loose. 
I lash his sides I damn his eyes. Be found 
by him, my dear man, somehow or somewhere 
before the burden of my shame crushes me to 
the earth and I sink beneath it into a frequently 
desired grave. The worst of it all is that I saw 
E. Fawcett yesterday and he told me he really 
believed you had gone. I hammer away, but 
I don't in the least know where to send this. 
Fawcett gave me a sort of a tip at which I 
think I shall clutch. A day or two after I last 
saw you I went out of town till the following 
Monday, and then, coming back, had but the 
Tuesday here, crammed with a frenzy and fury 
of conflicting duties. On Wednesday I was 
obliged to dash away again to go down to 
Rye, where domestic complications of the gravest 



A ET . 55 TO GAILLARD T. LAPSLEY 293 

order held me fast the rest of the week, or at 
least till the Saturday, when I rushed up to 
town only in time to rush off again and spend, 
at Cobham, two days with the Godkins, to 
whose ensconcement there it had been, for a long 
time before, one of the features of a devouring 
activity that I had responsibly helped to con- 
tribute. But now that I am at home again 
till, as soon as possible, I succeed in breaking 
away for the rest of the summer, I have lost 
you beyond recall, and my affliction is deep 
and true. But we know what it is better to 
have done even as an accompaniment of losing 
than never to have done at all. And I didn't 
do nothing at all on the contrary, I did that : 
that which is better. This is but a flurried and 
feverish word hurried off in the hope of keeping 
your inevitable hating me from becoming a 
settled habit. I follow you with much sympathy, 
and with still more interest, attention and hope. 
I follow you, in short, with a great many senti- 
ments. May the great globe whirl round before 
long some such holiday for you as will convert 
for me the pursuit I so inadequately allude 
to into something in the nature of an encounter. 
Only write to me. Do write to me. I mean 
when you begin to see your way. I know you 
will have lots to do first and I am very patient, 
as befits one who is so constantly yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Paul Bourget. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

19th August, 1898. 
Mon cher Ami, 

I have hideously delayed to acknowledge 
your so interesting letter from Paris, and now 



294 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

the manner of my response does little to repair 
the missing grace of my silence. I trust, how- 
ever, to your general confidence not to exact of 
me the detail of the reasons why I am more and 
more asservi to this benevolent legibility, which 
I so delight in on the part of others that I find 
it difficult to understand their occasional resent- 
ment of the same on my own a resentment that 
I know indeed, from generous licence already 
given, you do not share. I have promised my- 
self each day to attack you pen in hand, but the 
overpowering heat which, I grieve to say, has 
reigned even on my balmy hilltop, has, by really 
sickening me, taken the colour out of all my 
Gallo-latin, leaving very blanched as well the 
paler idiom in which I at last perforce address 
you. 

I have been entering much more than my silly 
silence represents into the sequel of your return 
to London, and not less into the sequel of that. 
Please believe in my affectionate participation as 
regards the Bezly Thorne consultation and what- 
ever emotion it may have excited in either of 
you. To that emotion I hope the healing waters 
have already applied the most cooling, soothing, 
softening douche or administered a not less 
beneficent draught if the enjoyment of them has 
had in fact to be more inward. I congratulate 
you on the decision you so speedily took and, 
with your usual Napoleonic celerity when the 
surface of the globe is in question, so energeti- 
cally acted upon. I trust you are, in short, 
really settled for a while among rustling German 
woods and plashing German waters. (Those are 
really, for the most part, my own main impres- 
sions of Germany the memory of ancient sum- 
mers there at more or less bosky Bader, or other 
Kur-orten, involving a great deal of open air 
strolling in the shade and sitting under trees.) 



AET. 55 TO PAUL BOURGET 295 

This particular dose of Deutschland will, I feel, 
really have been more favourable to you than 
your having had to swallow the Teuton- element 
in the form of the cookery, or of any other of 
the manifold attributes, of the robust fausse 
anglaise whom I here so confoundingly revealed 
to you. Let it console you also a little that you 
would have had to bear, as well, with that burden, 
a temperature that the particular conditions of 
the house I showed you would not have done 
much to minimise. I have been grilled, but I 
have borne it better for not feeling that I had 
put you also on the stove. Rye goes on baking, 
this amazing summer, but, though I suppose the 
heat is everywhere, you have a more refreshing 
regimen. I pray for the happiest and most 
marked results from it. 

I have received the Duchesse Bleue, and also 
the Land of Cockaigne from Madame Paul, whom 
I thank very kindly for her inscription. I had 
just read the Duchess, but haven't yet had 
leisure to attack the great Matilda. The Duchess 
inspires me with lively admiration so close and 
firm, and with an interest so nourished straight 
from the core of the subject, have you succeeded 
in keeping her. I never read you sans vouloir 
me colleter with you on what I can't help feeling 
to be the detrimental parti-pris (unless it be 
wholly involuntary) of some of your narrative, 
and other technical, processes. These questions 
of art and form, as well as of much else, interest 
me deeply really much more than any other ; 
and so, not less, do they interest you : yet, 
though they frequently come up between us, as 
it were, when I read you, I nowadays never seem 
to see you long enough at once to thresh them 
comfortably out with you. Moreover, after all, 
what does threshing- out avail ? that conviction 
is doubtless at the bottom of my disposition, half 



296 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

the time, to let discussion go. Each of us, from 
the moment we are worth our salt, writes as he 
can and only as he can, and his writing at all is 
conditioned upon the very things that from the 
standpoint of another method most lend them- 
selves to criticism. And we each know much 
better than anyone else can what the defect of 
our inevitable form may appear. So, though it 
does strike me that your excess of anticipatory 
analysis undermines too often the reader's curi- 
osity which is a gross, loose way of expressing 
one of the things I mean so, probably, I really 
understand better than anyone except yourself 
why, to do the thing at all, you must use your 
own, and nobody's else, trick of presentation. 
No two men in the world have the same idea, 
image and measure of presentation. All the 
same, I must some day read one of your books 
with you, so interesting would it be to me if 
not to you ! to put, from page to page and 
chapter to chapter, your finger on certain places, 
showing you just where and why (selon moi !) 
you are too prophetic, too exposedly constructive, 
too disposed yourself to swim in the thick reflec- 
tive element in which you set your figures afloat. 
All this is a clumsy notation of what I mean, 
and, on the whole, mal apropos into the bargain, 
inasmuch as I find in the Duchess plenty of the 
art I most like and the realisation of an admirable 
subject. Beautifully done the whole episode of 
the actress's intervention in the rue Nouvelle, in 
which I noted no end of superior touches. I 
doubt if any of your readers lose less than I do 
to the fiftieth part of an intention. All this 
part of the book seems to me thoroughly handled 
except that, I think, I should have given Molan 
a different behaviour after he gets into the cab 
with the girl not have made him act so im- 
mediately " in character." He takes there no line 



AET. 55 TO PAUL BOURGET 297 

I mean no deeper one which is what I think 
he would have done. In fact I think I see, 
myself, positively what he would have done ; 
and in general he is, to my imagination, as you 
give him, too much in character, too little mys- 
terious. So is Mme. de Bonnivet so too, even, 
is the actress. Your love of intellectual daylight, 
absolutely your pursuit of complexities, is an 
injury to the patches of ambiguity and the 
abysses of shadow which really are the clothing 
or much of it of the effects that constitute the 
material of our trade. Basta ! 

I ordered my year-old " Maisie " the other day 
to be sent to you, and I trust she will by this 
time have safely arrived in spite of some 
ambiguity in the literation of the name of your 
villa as, with your letter in my hand, I earnestly 
meditate upon it. I have also despatched to 
Madame Paul myself a little volume just pub- 
lished a poor little pot-boiling study of nothing 
at all, qui ne tire pas a consequence. It is but 
a monument to my fatal technical passion, which 
prevents my ever giving up anything I have 
begun. So that when something that I have sup- 
posed to be a subject turns out on trial really 
to be none, je m'y acharne d'autant plus, for 
mere superstition superstitious fear, I mean, of 
the consequences and omens of weakness. The 
small book in question is really but an exercise 
in the art of not appearing to one's self to fail. 
You will say it is rather cruel that for such 
exercises the public also should have to pay. 
Well, Madame Paul and you get your exemplaire 
for nothing. 

I have not seen La Femme et le Pantin I see 
nothing in the way of books here ; but what you 
tell me disposes me to send for it as well as my 
impression of the only other thing that I have 
read by the same hand. Only, on the question 



298 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 



1898 



of talent and of effect produced, don't you forget, 
too much, with such people, that talent and effect 
are comparatively easy things with the licence of 
such gros moyens ? They are a great short-cut 
the extremities to which all these people pro- 
ceed, and anyone can no matter who be more 
or less striking with them. But I am writing 
you an interminable letter. Do let me know 
sans m'en vouloir for the quantity and quality 
of it how Nauheim turns out, and receive my 
heartiest wishes for all sorts of comfortable 
results. Yours both always constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To W. D. Howells. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

19th August, 1898. 
My dear Howells, 

I throw myself without hesitation into 
this familiar convenience, for the simple reason 
that I can thus thank you to-day for your blessed 
letter from York Harbour, whereas if I were to 
wait to be merely romantic and illegible, I should 
perhaps have, thanks to many things, to put off 
la douce affaire till week after next. If I strike, 
moreover, while the iron is hot, I strike also 
while the weather is so unprecedentedly hot for 
this lukewarm land that even the very moderate 
cerebral performance to which I am treating you 
requires [sic] no manual extension. It has been 
delicious to hear from you, and, even though I 
be here domiciled in some gentility, in a little old 
quasi-historic wainscotted house, with a real lawn 
and a real mulberry-tree of my own to kick my 
heels on and under, I draw from the folds of your 
page a faint, far sense of the old and remembered 



AET. 55 TO W. D. HO WELLS 299 

breath of New England woods and New England 
waters such as there is still somewhere on my 
jaded palate the power to taste and even a little, 
over-built and over-planted as I at the best am, 
to languish for. . . . 

I can't speak to you of the war very much 
further than to admire the wit of your closing 
epigram about it, which, however, at the rate 
you throw out these things, you must long since 
have forgotten. But my silence isn't in the least 
indifference ; it is a deep embarrassment of 
thought of imagination. I have hated, I have 
almost loathed it ; and yet I can't help plucking 
some food for fancy out of its results some 
vision of how much the bigger complexity we 
are landed in, the bigger world- contacts, may 
help to educate us and force us to produce people 
of capacity greater than a less pressure demands. 
Capacity for what ? you will naturally ask 
whereupon I scramble out of our colloquy by 
saying that I should perhaps tell you beautifully 
if you were here and sitting with me on the 
darkening lawn of my quaint old garden at the 
end of this barely endurable August day. I will 
make more things than that clear to you if you 
will only turn up there. Each of you, Mrs. 
Ho wells, Mildred, and John all included for I 
have four spare rooms, tell it not anywhere has 
been individually considered, as to what you 
would most like, in my domestic arrangements. 
Good-bye, good-bye. It is getting so dark that 
I can't see to dictate which represents to you 
sufficiently the skill of my secretary. I am 
deeply impatient for your novel. But I fear a 
painful wait. . . . Yours, my dear Howells, ever- 
more, 

HENRY JAMES. 



300 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 



To Madame Paul Bourget. 

The Awkward Age began to appear in Harper's Weekly on 
October 1, 1898. Madame Bourget had sent H. J. her 
translation into French of Mathilde Serao's Paese di 
Cuccagna. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

August 22nd, 1898. 
Dear Madame Paul, 

I rejoice in your charming letter and find 
it most kind. I wrote to Bourget four or five 
days ago, so that you are not without my news 
(unless my misconstruction of the name of your 
villa has deprived you,) and meanwhile it is an 
immense satisfaction to have something of the 
detail of yours. It rather sounds, indeed, as if 
it w^ere summed up in the one word (con rispetto 
parlando) perspiration but I doubt if the differ- 
ence between Rye and Nauheim has been other 
than that of the frying-pan and the fire. Here 
we have very sufficiently fried, and I have been 
moved to see the finger of Providence in the 
large, fat, dirty index of the bouncing dame who, 
to your vision, pointed away from Watchbell St. 
I have said to myself on the torrid afternoons : 
" Les malheureux boxed up with that staircase 
in that stuffiness comment y eussent-ils sur- 
vecu ! " Such reflections are what has princi- 
pally happened to me except, thank heaven, to 
get on more or less with my novel, the serial 
publication of which begins, in New York, on 
October 1st. I hope with all my heart that, in 
spite of everything, you feel your cure to be 
deep-based and wide-striking. ... I am dis- 
tressed that "Maisie" hasn't yet reached you, 
and will immediately write to London to see how 
my publishers have envisage the address I sent 
them. But I trust she may perhaps be in the 



AST. 55 TO MADAME PAUL BOURGET 301 

act of arriving now. It is a volume the merit 
of which is that the subject and there is a 
subject is, I think, exhaustively treated over- 
treated, I dare say. But I feel it suppose it 
to be probably what I have done, in the way of 
meeting the artistic problem, of best. The ele- 
ments, however, are none of the largest. Let me 
thank you more directly for the solid cadeau of 
your so accomplished translation. I am only 
waiting for the first cool day to begin it : I 
shrink a little, otherwise, under the dog-star, 
from Naples and the ardent Matilda. But you 
will neither of you lose by it. ... My affec- 
tionate greeting to Bourget. Believe me, dear 
Madame Paul, yours very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Miss Frances R. Morse. 
Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
October 19th, 1898. 

My dear Fanny, 

I have received, month after month, the 
most touching and admirable signs of your re- 
membrance, and yet haven't visibly to your- 
self so much as waved a hat at you in return : 
a brutality which, however, is all on the surface 
only and no measure of the deep appreciation I 
have really felt. Your letters, from the moment 
the war began, were a real waft of the real thing, 
penetrating all the more deeply on account of 
all the old memories stirred by the particular 
things, the names and persons and kind of 
anxiety, they were full of so many echoes of 
the far-away time it makes one, in the presence 
of the tm-knowing generation, feel so horribly old 
to recall. I can thank you, affectionately, for 



302 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1898 

all these things now very much better than I can 
explain in detail why you have not heard from 
me sooner. The best explanation is simply the 
general truth that I've had a summer in which 
my correspondence has very much gone to the 
wall. I moved down here rather early, but that 
operated not quite or really not at all as a 
simplification. You know for yourself what it 
means to start a new home, on however humble 
a basis from the moment one has to do it 
mainly single-handed and with a great deal else 
to do at the same time. Here I am at last on 
somewhat quieter days though even this does 
happen to be a week of such small hospitalities 
as I am restricted to, and I have, if only from 
the still large arrears of my correspondence, which 
reduce me to this ugly process, the sense of the 
shining hour at best unimproved. 

I won't attempt to take up in detail your 
innumerable bits of news and all your evocations 
of the Boston picture. I move through that, 
always, as through a company of ghosts, so com- 
pletely have sound and sight of individuals and 
presences faded away from me. Still, I have had 
some close reminders. Wendell Holmes was here, 
still beautiful and charming, for a day or two, 
and above all, off and on, for a couple of months, 
my nephew Harry, whom you well know, and 
in whom I took no end of comfort and pleasure. 
His being here was a great satisfaction to me 
and doubled by the fact of my so getting more 
news of William and Alice than I have had for 
many a year. She sent to the boy all his father's 
letters from California and elsewhere the conse- 
quence of which, for me, was a wonderful partici- 
pation and interest. William appears to have 
had a magnificent sort of summer and no end of 
success on the Pacific slope besides innumerable 
impressions by the way and an excellent series of 



. 66 TO MISS FRANCES R. MORSE 303 

weeks in the Adirondacks before going forth. 
But after all, all these things have flashed by. 
The very war, now that it's over, seems merely 
to have flashed the dreadful marks of the flash, 
in so many a case, being beyond my ken. Well, 
I won't attempt to go into it it's all beyond me. 
It only, I'm afraid, makes me want to curl up 
more closely in this little old-world corner, where 
I can successfully beg such questions. They 
become a spectacle merely a drama of great 
interest, but as to which judgment and prophecy 
are withered in me, or at all events absolutely 
checked. 

I am very sorry you and your mother have 
ceased coming out just at the time I've some- 
thing to show you. My little old house is really 
pretty enough for that, and has given me, all 
this wonderful, hot, rainless, radiant summer, a 
peace that would pass understanding if I had only 
got through the first botherations a little earlier 
in the season. However, I've done very well 
have only not been quite such an anchorite as 
I had planned. The bump of luggage has been 
frequent on my stair, and the conference with 
the cook proved a greater strain than, in that 

g articular way, I have ever before had to meet, 
ut it's doubtless my own fault. I should have 
sought a drearier refuge. I am staying here late 
as far on into the autumn as wind and weather 
may permit. I hope this will find you in the 
very heart of the American October crystal. . . . 
I congratulate you, my dear Fanny, on all the 
warm personal, local life that surrounds you, and 
that you touch at so many points very much 
more the normal state for one's afternoon of 
existence, after all, than my expatriated one. 
But we go on as we may. I don't feel as if I 
had thanked you half enough for your so many 
beautiful bulletins and can only ask you to 



304 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

believe that each, in its order, more or less 
brought tears to my eyes. Recall me, please, to 
your mother's kindest remembrance, and believe 
me 

Yours evermore, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Dr. Louis Waldstein. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Oct: 21st, 1898. 

Dear Sir, 

Forgive my neglect, under great pressure 
of occupation, of your so interesting letter of the 
12th. I have since receiving it had complicated 
calls on my time. That the Turn of the Screw 
has been suggestive and significant to you in 
any degree it gives me great pleasure to hear ; 
and I can only thank you very kindly for the 
impulse of sympathy that made you write. I 
am only afraid, perhaps, that my conscious in- 
tention strikes you as having been larger than I 
deserve it should be thought. It is the intention 
so primarily, with me, always, of the artist, the 
painter, that that is what I most, myself, feel in 
it and the lesson, the idea ever conveyed is 
only the one that deeply lurks in any vision 
prompted by life. And as regards a presentation 
of things so fantastic as in that wanton little 
Tale, I can only rather blush to see real substance 
read into them I mean for the generosity of the 
reader. But, of course, where there is life, there's 
truth, and the truth was at the back of my head. 
The poet is always justified when he is not a 
humbug ; always grateful to the justifying com- 
mentator. My bogey-tale dealt with things so 
hideous that I felt that to save it at all it needed 
some infusion of beauty or prettiness, and the 



AET. 55 TO DR. LOUIS WALDSTEIN 305 

beauty of the pathetic was the only attainable 
was indeed inevitable. But ah, the exposure 
indeed, the helpless plasticity of childhood that 
isn't dear or sacred to somebody ! That was my 
little tragedy over which you show a wisdom 
for which I thank you again. Believe me, thus, 
my dear Sir, yours most truly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To H. G. Wells. 

The reference in the second paragraph of this letter is to 
Covering End, the second story of The Two Magics. Mr. 
Wells was at this time living near Folkestone, distant 
from Rye by the breadth of Romney Marsh. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Dec. 9th, 1898. 
My dear H. G. Wells, 

Your so liberal and graceful letter is to 
my head like coals of fire so repeatedly for all 
these weeks have I had feebly to suffer frustra- 
tions in the matter of trundling over the marsh 
to ask for your news and wish for your continued 
amendment. The shortening days and the 
deepening mud have been at the bottom of 
this affair. I never get out of the house till 
3 o'clock, when night is quickly at one's heels. 
I would have taken a regular day I mean 
started in the a.m. but have been so ridden, 
myself, by the black care of an unfinished and 
running (galloping, leaping and bounding,) serial 
that parting with a day has been like parting 
with a pound of flesh. I am still a neck ahead, 
however, and this week will see me through ; I 
accordingly hope very much to be able to turn 
up on one of the ensuing days. I will sound a 
horn, so that you yourself be not absent on the 
chase. Then I will express more articulately my 



306 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1898 

appreciation of your various signs of critical 
interest, as well as assure you of my sympathy 
in your own martyrdom. What will you have ? 
It's all a grind and a bloody battle as well as a 
considerable lark, and the difficulty itself is the 
refuge from the vulgarity. Bless your heart, I 
think I could easily say worse of the T. of the S., 
the young woman, the spooks, the style, the 
everything, than the worst any one else could 
manage. One knows the most damning things 
about one's self. Of course I had, about my 
young woman, to take a very sharp line. The 
grotesque business I had to make her picture and 
the childish psychology I had to make her trace 
and present, were, for me at least, a very difficult 
job, in which absolute lucidity and logic, a single- 
ness of effect, were imperative. Therefore I had 
to rule out subjective complications of her own 
play of tone etc. ; and keep her impersonal save 
for the most obvious and indispensable little note 
of neatness, firmness and courage without which 
she wouldn't have had her data. But the thing 
is essentially a pot-boiler and a jeu d y esprit. 

With the little play, the absolute creature of 
its conditions, I had simply to make up a deficit, 
and take a small revanche. For three mortal 
years had the actress for whom it was written 
(utterly to try to fit) persistently failed to pro- 
duce it, and I couldn't wholly waste my labour. 
The B.P. won't read a play with the mere names 
of the speakers so I simply paraphrased these 
and added such indications as might be the 
equivalent of decent acting a history and an 
evolution that seem to me moreover explicatively 
and sufficiently smeared all over the thing. The 
moral is of course Don't write one-act plays. 
But I didn't mean thus to sprawl. I envy your 
hand your needle-pointed fingers. As you don't 
say that you're not better I prepare myself to be 



ABT. 55 TO H. G. WELLS 307 

greatly struck with the same, and with kind 
regards to your wife, 

Believe me yours ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. What's this about something in some 
newspaper ? I read least of all from long and 
deep experience what my friends write about 
me, and haven't read the things you mention. 
I suppose it's because they know I don't that 
they dare ! 



To F. W. H. Myers. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Dec. 19th, 1898. 
My dear Myers, 

I don't know what you will think of my 
unconscionable delay to acknowledge your letter 
of so many, so very many days ago, nor exactly 
how I can make vivid to you the nature of my 
hindrances and excuses. I have, in truth, been 
(until some few days since) intensely and 
anxiously busy, finishing, under pressure, a long 

J'ob that had from almost the first I mean from 
ong before I had reached the end begun to be 
(loathsome name and fact !) " serialized " so 
that the printers were at my heels and I had to 
make a sacrifice of my correspondence utterly 
to keep the sort of cerebral freshness required 
for not losing my head or otherwise collapsing. 
But I won't expatiate. Please believe my silence 
has been wholly involuntary. And yet, now that 
I am writing I scarce know what to say to you 
on the subject on which you wrote, especially as 
I'm afraid I don't quite understand the principal 
question you put to me about " The Turn of the 
Screw." However, that scantly matters ; for in 
truth I am afraid I have on some former occasions 



308 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

rather awkwardly signified to you that I some- 
how can't pretend to give any coherent account 
of my small inventions " after the fact." There 
they are the fruit, at best, of a very imperfect 
ingenuity and with all the imperfections thereof 
on their heads. The one thing and another that 
are questionable and ambiguous in them I mostly 
take to be conditions of their having got them- 
selves pushed through at all. The T. of the S. 
is a very mechanical matter, I honestly think 
an inferior, a merely pictorial, subject and rather 
a shameless pot-boiler. The thing that, as I 
recall it, I most wanted not to fail of doing, 
under penalty of extreme platitude, was to give 
the impression of the communication to the 
children of the most infernal imaginable evil and 
danger the condition, on their part, of being as 
exposed as we can humanly conceive children to 
be. This was my artistic knot to untie, to put 
any sense or logic into the thing, and if I had 
known any way of producing more the image of 
their contact and condition I should assuredly 
have been proportionately eager to resort to it. 
I evoked the worst I could, and only feel tempted 
to say, as in French : " Excusez du peu ! 5: 

I am living so much down here that I fear I 
am losing hold of some of my few chances of 
occasionally seeing you. The charming old 
humble-minded " quaintness " and quietness of 
this little brown hilltop city lays a spell upon me. 
I send you and your wife and all your house all 
the greetings of the season and am, my dear 
Myers, yours very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AST. 55 TO MRS. WILLIAM JAMES 309 

To Mrs. William James. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

19th December, 1898. 
Dearest Alice, 

I have gone on and on most abominably 
and inexorably owing you a letter since a date so 
distant that I associate the time intimately with 
the admirable summer, here, that we so long ago 
left behind and of which Harry will at a period 
by this time quite prehistoric have given you 
something of the pleasant little story. But the 
sense always abides with me that when I am for 
weeks and months together dumb as I know 
I more than once have been you and William 
are quite de force to read into it all the kindly 
extenuations I require. I have in fact, for many 
weeks, down here, been taking the general line 
of saving up all the cerebration not imperatively 
drained off from day to day for a long job that I 
have had to carry through under the nightmare 
of belatedness a belatedness so great (produced 
by time lost originally in arranging this place, 
moving down, taking possession, etc.) as to leave 
me no margin whatever for accident, indis- 
position or languor. My capacity for the dis- 
tillation of prose of decent quality remains, alas, 
with all the amendments time has brought it, 
still, each day, so limited that I get awfully 
nervous under a very continuous task unless I 
by certain flagrant sacrifices keep up to myself 
the fiction of freshness of not getting simply 
sick, in other words, by adding any writing that 
I haven't absolutely to do to the quantity that 
is each morning imposed. So the sacrifices, for 
a long time past, have been, as usual, my corre- 
spondence, and as the most tender morsels for 



310 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 



1898 



the Moloch you and William naturally en pre- 
miere ligne. The Moloch at last, however since 
these four or five days has been temporarily 
appeased ; and I have instantly begun to transfer 
my attention from one form of belatement to 
another. I am working off arrears of letters, and 
if I take you, dearest Alice, in the heap, I at 
least pay you the sweet tribute of taking you 
first. You have been without sign or sound of 
me so long that I daresay you may have even 
wild imaginings about my " location " and other 
conditions. I am located only just where Harry 
left me and where I have stuck fast since July 
last without the excision of twenty-four hours. 
The autumn and the early winter have followed 
the ardent summer here only to multiply my 
points of contact with my environment and to 
saturate me more deeply with the grateful sense 
of it. This contentment has defied all winds and 
weathers in plenty of which we have for the 
last two months rejoiced. I like to send all our 
little news of such matters in the form of news 
to Harry in particular, whose mind is furnished 
with the proper little hooks for it to hold on by. 
Tell him then, since I won't attempt to burden 
him individually with acknowledgements that 
will overload him, that everything he fancied and 
fondled here only kept growing, all the autumn 
long, more adapted to such a relation, and that 
in short both the little brown city and the so 
amiable countryside were not in July and August 
a " patch," for charm, colour, " subtlety " and 
every kind of daily grace, to what they became, 
in an uninterrupted crescendo, all through Octo- 
ber and November. All the good that I hoped 
of the place has, in fine, profusely bloomed and 
flourished here. It was really at about the end 
of September, when the various summer super- 
numeraries had quite faded away, that the special 



. 55 TO MRS. WILLIAM JAMES 311 

note of Rye, the feeling of the little hilltop com- 
munity, bound together like a very modest, 
obscure and impecunious, but virtuous and ami- 
able family, began most unmistakably to come 
out. This is the present note of life here, and it 
has floated me (excuse mixture of metaphor) very 
placidly along. Nothing would induce me now 
not to be here for Christmas and nothing will 
induce me not to do my best at least to be here 
for the protrusion of the bulbs the hyacinths and 
tulips and crocuses that, in return for expended 
shillings, George Gammon promises me for the 
earliest peep of spring. As he has broken no 
word with me yet, I trust him implicitly for this. 
Meantime too I have trusted him, all the autumn, 
for all sorts of other things as well : we have 
committed to the earth together innumerable 
unsightly roots and sprigs that I am instructed 
to depend upon as the fixed foundation of a 
future herbaceous and perennial paradise. Little 
by little, even with other cares, the slowly but 
surely working poison of the garden-mania begins 
to stir in my long- sluggish veins. Tell Harry, 
as an intimate instance, that by a masterly in- 
spiration I have at one bold stroke swept away 
all the complications in the quarter on which the 
studio looks down, uprooting the wilderness of 
shrubs, relaying paths, extending borders, etc., 
and made arrangements to throw the lawn, in 
one lordly sweep, straight up into that angle a 
proceeding that greatly increases our apparent 
extent and dignity : an improvement, in short, 
quite unspeakable. But the great charm is the 
simply being here, and in particular the beginning 
of the day no longer with the London blackness 
and foulness, the curtain of fog and smoke that 
one has each morning muscularly to lift and fasten 
back ; but with the pleasant, sunny garden out- 
look, the grass all haunted with starlings and 



312 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

chaffinches, and the in-and-out relation with it 
that in a manner gilds and refreshes the day. 
This indeed with work and a few, a very few, 
people is the all. But that is just the beauty. 
I've missed nothing that I haven't been more than 
resigned to. There have been a few individuals 
from Saturday to Monday, and one Jonathan 
Sturges, whose identity, if it is too dim for you, 
it would take me too long to explain ever since 
mid-October. He remains till over Christmas ; 
but save as making against pure intensity of 
concentration, he is altogether a boon. I go to 
town the last of the month, but only for two or 
three weeks and in a pure picnicking way. I 
have a plan and a desire really to achieve this 
winter after an intermission of five years, ten or 
twelve weeks in Italy ; and it now seems prob- 
able I shall do so. I shall not know with absolute 
definiteness till I go to London ; but the omens 
and portents are favourable. On my return I 
shall come straight down here, and I already 
foresee how the thought of the spring here will 
draw me from almost wherever I may at that 
time be. I shall write you again, however, about 
this ; so that you shall definitely know what 
becomes of me. You see this is a pure out- 
pouring of the ego. I am after all without fresh 
news of yourselves to rebound from. The latest 
and best is William's kind dispatch to me of his 
" Immortality " lecture, for which I heartily 
thank him, and which I have read with great 
appreciation of the art and interest of it. I am 
afraid I don't very consciously come in to either 
of the classes it is designed to pacify either that 
of the yearners, I mean, or that of the objectors. 
It isn't the difficulties that keep me from the 
yearning it is somehow the lack of the principle 
of the same. However, I go not now into this. 
I only acknowledge, till after the turn of the year 



. 55 TO MRS. WILLIAM JAMES 313 

I write to him, William's communication of the 
book. Every illustration of his magnificent 
activity at the spectacle of which I am con- 
demned to such a woefully back seat gives me 
more joy than I will now pretend to express. 
For the rest, dearest Alice, take from me all my 
" hopes " ; the inevitable vain ones about your 
household health and happiness and the com- 
plexion and outlook of the season for all of you. 
I try to see you all as cheerfully and gregariously 
yet not, for the dignity of each, too much of 
the latter fire-lighted and eke furnace-heated. 
Strange things contend with this image wild 
newspaper blizzards and other public bewilder- 
ments. Are you individually expanding ? I 
mean even to the islands of the sea. I myself 
have no policy. I have no judgment. I am too 
far and too unadvised and too out of it and too 
" subtle," also, to see gospel truth in all the so 
genial encouragement that our swelling state 
finds, naturally and very logically, in this country. 
That the two countries should swell together 
offers material convenience and that is for much. 
But I only meant to ask if William and you and 
the children are definitely in or out of the swell. 
I will be myself wherever you are. . . . Yours, 
dearest Alice, always constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Charles Eliot Norton. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
26th December, 1898. 
My dear Charles, 

. . . Let me say at once that a great part 
of the secret of my horrid prolonged dumbness 
has been just this ugly fact of my finding myself 
reduced, in my declining years, like a banker or 



314 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

a cabinet minister, altogether to dictating my 
letters. The effect of this, in turn, has been to 
give me a great shyness about them which has 
indeed stricken me with silence just in proportion 
as the help so rendered has seemed to myself 
really to minister to speech. Many people, I 
find, in these conservative climes, take it ex- 
tremely ill to be addressed in Remingtonese. . . . 
Forgive, however, this long descant on my delays, 
my doubts and fears, my final jump, rendered 
thus clumsy by my nervousness. . . . 

The worst of such predicaments is, my dear 
Charles, that when one does write, everything 
one has, at a thousand scattered moments, pre- 
viously wanted to say, seems to have dried up 
with desuetude and neglect. Oh, all the things 
that should have been said on the spot if they 
were ever to be said at all ! This applies, you 
will immediately recognise though it's a stern 
truth by which I suffer most very poignantly 
to all the utterance I feel myself to have so 
odiously failed of at the time of the death of 
dear Burne- Jones. I can only give you a very 
partially lucid account of why on that occasion 
at least no word from me reached you. I saw 
myself, heard myself, felt myself, not write and 
yet even then knew perfectly both that I should 
be writing now and that I should now be sorrier 
than ever for not writing then. It came, the 
miserable event, at the very moment I was 
achieving, very single-handed and unassisted, a 
complicated transfer of residence from London 
to this place, with all sorts of bewildering material 
detail (consequent on renovation, complete pre- 
paration of every kind, of old house and garden) 
adding its distraction to the acute sense of press- 
ing work fatally retarded and blighted ; so that 
a postponement which has finally grown to this 
monstrous length began with being a thing only 



. 65 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 315 

of moments and hours. Then, moreover, it was 
simply so wretched and odious to feel him, by a 
turn of the wheel of fate that had taken but an 
instant, gone for ever from sight and sound and 
touch. I was tenderly attached to him, with 
abundant reason for being, and there was some- 
thing that choked and angered me beyond what 
words could trust themselves to express, in the 
mere blind betise of the business. So the days 
and the weeks went. I went up from here to 
town, and thence to Rottingdean, for the com- 
mittal of his ashes, there, to the earth of the 
little grey-towered churchyard, in sight of the 
sea, that was at the moment all smothered in 
lovely spring flowers. It was a day of extra- 
ordinary beauty, and in every way a quite inde- 
scribably sincere I remember I could find at the 
time no other word for the impression little 
funeral and demonstration. The people from 
London were those, almost all, in whose presence 
there was a kind of harmony. ... I had seen 
the dear man, to my great joy, only a few hours 
before his death : meeting him at a kind of 
blighted and abortive wedding-feast (that is a 
dinner before a marriage that was to take place 
on the morrow) from which we were both glad 
to disembroil ourselves : so that we drove to- 
gether home, intimately moralising and talking 
nonsense, and he put me, in the grey London 
midnight, down at my corner to go on by him- 
self to the Grange. It was the last time I saw 
him, and, as one always does, I have taken ever 
since a pale comfort in the thought that our 
parting was explicitly affectionate and such, 
almost, as one would have wished it even had 
one known. I miss him even here and now. 
He was one of the most loveable of men and 
most charming of friends altogether and abso- 
lutely distinguished. I think his career, as an 



316 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES isos 

artistic one, and speaking quite apart from the 
degree of one's sympathy with his work, one of 
the greatest of boons to our most vulgar of ages. 
There was no false note in him, nothing to dilute 
the strain ; he knew his direction and held it 
hard wrought with passion and went as straight 
as he could. He was for all this always, to me, 
a great comfort. For the rest death came to 
him, I think, at none so bad a moment. He 
had, essentially, to my vision, really done. And 
he was very tired, and his cup was, with all the 
mingled things, about as full as it would hold. 
It was so good a moment, in short, that I think 
his memory is already feeling the benefit of it in 
a sort of rounded finished way. I was not at 
the sale of his pictures and drawings which took 
place after his death I have not stirred from 
this spot since I came to it at the end of June ; 
but though I should immensely have cherished 
some small scrap, everything went at prices 
magnificent for his estate that made acquisition 
a vain dream. ... I have had and little wonder 
scant news of you. I know you've renounced 
your professorship. I know you felt strongly on 
public events. But I am in a depressed twilight 
of discrimination, I mean that enables me to 
make less of these things than I should like to 
do. So much has come and gone, these six 
months, that how can I talk about it ? It's 
strange, the consciousness possible to an American 
here to-day, of being in a country in which the 
drift of desire so far as it concerns itself with 
the matter is that we shall swell and swell, and 
acquire and require, to the top of our opportunity. 
My own feeling, roughly stated, is that we have 
not been good enough for our opportunity 
vulgar, in a manner, as that was and is ; but it 
may be the real message of the whole business 
to make us as much better as the great grabbed-up 



A ET . 55 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 317 

British Empire has, unmistakeably, made the 
English. But over these abysses into them 
rather I peer with averted eye. I fear I am 
too lost in the mere spectacle for any decent 
morality. Good-bye, my dear Charles, and for- 
give my mechanic volubility. Isn't it better to 
have ticked and shocked than never to have 
ticked at all ? I send my love to all your 
house. . . . 

Your ever, my dear Charles, affectionate old 
friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Henry James, junior. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Feb. 24, 1899. 
Dearest Harry, 

I have a good letter from you too long 
unanswered but you will easily condone my 
offence of not too soon loading you with the 
burdensome sense that it is I not your virtuous 
self who have last written. And you must now 
let that sense sit on you very lightly. Don't 
trouble about me till all college pressure is com- 
pletely over by which I mean till some as yet 
comparatively remote summer-day. . . . We've 
had of late a good lot of wondrous, sunny, balmy 
days to-day is splendid in which I have kept 
saying to myself " What a climate dear old 
much-abused thing after all ! " and feeling quite 
balmily and baskingly southern. I've been " sit- 
ting " all the last month in the green upstairs 
south-west room, whose manifest destiny is clearly 
to become a second-story boudoir. Whenever 
my books arrive in their plenitude from De Vere 
Gardens it will be absolutely required to help to 
house them. It has been, at any rate, constantly 
flooded with sun, and has opened out its view 



318 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES im 

toward Winchelsea and down the valley in the 
most charming way. The garden is beginning to 
smile and shimmer almost as if it were already 
May. Half the crocuses and hyacinths are up, 
the primrose and the jonquil abound, the tulips 
are daily expected, and the lawn is of a rich and 
vivid green that covers with shame the state in 
which you saw it. George Gammon proves as 
regular as a set of false teeth and improves each 
shining hour. In short the quite essential amia- 
bility of L.H. only deepens with experience. 
Therefore see what a house I'm keeping for 
you. . . . 

But I am writing you a letter that will burden 
you. I won't break ground on the greater 
questions though. I think them think it, at 
least, in the U.S., the main one, extraordinarily 
interesting. To live in England is, inevitably, 
to feel the " imperial " question in a different 
way and take it at a different angle from what 
one might, with the same mind even, do in 
America. Expansion has so made the English 
what they are for good or for ill, but on the 
whole for good that one doesn't quite feel one's 
way to say for one's country " No I'll have 
none of it ! " It has educated the English. 
Will it only demoralize us ? I suppose the 
answer to that is that we can get at home a 
bigger education than they in short as big a 
one as we require. Thank God, however, I've 
no opinions not even on the Dreyfus case. I'm 
more and more only aware of things as a more 
or less mad panorama, phantasmagoria and 
dime museum. It would take me longer than to 
finish this paper to send you all the fond incite- 
ment or solicitation that I have on hand for you 
or to work off my stored-up messages to your 
Eltern and brethren. There is time to talk of it, 
but I count on as many of you as possible for 



AIT. 55 TO HENRY JAMES, JUNIOR 319 

next summer. ... I hope you are conscious of 
a little tethering string of attachment to the old 
mulberry in the garden, and am ever your 
affectionate 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. Am just up again from such a sweet 
sunny spacious after-luncheon stroll in the garden. 
You'll think it very vulgar of me, but I continue 
to find it ravishing. 

To A. F. de Navarro. 

Lamb House, 

Rye. 
Monday Small hours 1.30 a.m. 

[Feb. 27. 1899]. 
My dear Don Tony, 

You can't say I overwhelm you with 
acknowledgments, din my gratitude into your 
ear or make you curse the day you suffered a 
kindly impulse to an intensely susceptible friend 
to get the better of your appreciation of a quiet 
life. No you can do none of these things. On 
the other hand you can perhaps complete your 
graceful generosity by remembering that your 
admirable little Xmas memento was accompanied 
with a " Now hold your tongue ! "' almost as 
admirable in its distinguished consideration as 
the felicitous object itself. It was, clearly, that 
you felt : " Oh yes, of course you're charmed : 
a qui le dites-vous ? But for heaven's sake, 
thanked to satiety as I am on all sides, don't set 
your ponderous machinery in motion to drop the 
last straw ! ' : So I've put out the fires and 
stopped the wheels and paid off the stokers till 
now. I've held my tongue like an angel, but 
I've thought of you and of your matchless 
mate like well, if not a, at least, the devil, and 



320 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

at last the whole shop insists on beginning again 
to hum. I cherish your so periodical and so 
munificent thoughts of me as one of the good 
things of this world of worries. Nothing ever 
touches me more. I am finally going abroad for 
three months on Tuesday or Wednesday, and 
the little sensitive blank record, in its little green 
sheath, accompanies me to drink in Impressions 
in the usual itinerant shrine of your gifts : my 
left-hand upper waistcoat - pocket. There are 
vulgar things a watch, an eyeglass, seven-and- 
sixpence in the other pockets ; but nothing but 
you in that one. Voila. I go to Italy after more 

than 5 years interlude. 

****** 

Drama tableau ! My dear Tony, you are liter- 
ally my saviour. The above row of stars repre- 
sents midnight emotions and palpitations of no 
mean order. As I finished the line just before 
the stars I became aware that a smell of smoke, 
a sense of burning that had worried me for the 
previous hour, had suddenly very much increased 
and that the room was full of it. De fil en 
aiguille, and in much anxiety, I presently dis- 
covered that the said smoke was coming up 
through the floor between the painted dark- 
green planks (dark green !) of the margin outside 
of matting and rugs, and under a table near the 
fireplace. To assure myself that there was no 
source of flame in the room below, and then to 
go up and call my servant, do you see ? (he long 
since snoring in bed for it's now 2.15 a.m.) was 
the work of a moment. With such tools as we 
could command we hacked and pried and sawed 
and tore up a couple of planks from which 
volumes of smoke issued ! ! Do you see the 
midnight little flurry ? Bref, we got at it a 
charred, smouldering long- smouldering, I sup- 
pose beam under, or almost under, the hearth- 



AET. 55 TO A. F. DE NAVARRO 321 

stone and in process of time kindled that is 
heated to smoking-point by its temperature (that 
of the hearth,) which was very high. We put 
him out, we made him stop, with soaked sponges 
and then the relief : even while gazing at the 
hacked and smashed and disfigured floors. Now 
my man is gone to bed, and I, rather enlivened 
for immediate sleep, sit and watch by the scene 
of the small scare and finish my letter to you : 
really, you know, to grasp your hand, to hang 
upon your neck, in gratitude, you being at the 
bottom of the whole thing. I sat up late in the 
first instance to write to you, because I knew 
I shouldn't have time to-morrow : and it was 
because I did so that I was saved a much worse 
later alarm. Two or three hours hence the smoke 
would have penetrated to the rest of the house 
and we should have started up to " fly round " 
to a much livelier tune. 

Bravo, then, again, dear indispensable man ! 
How I feel with magnificent Mrs Tony for if 
you're such an " A no. 1 " guardian-angel to my 
house, what are you to your own ? The only 
thing is that I was going to write to you of two 
or three other things and this stupid little accident 
has smoked them all out. I've lent this really 
most amiable little old house to Jonathan Sturges 
while I'm away and he's to come as soon as he 
can. He has been wretched, as you know, with 
poisonous influenza, but I went up to town to 
see him a few days since, and he seemed really 
mending. He was here a long time in the autumn 
and the early winter and our conversation hung 
and hovered about you. Good night it's 2.45 
and all's well. I must turn in. I grovel before 
your wife and take endless liberties with your 
son and am yours after all this more than 
ever much as that was 

HENRY JAMES. 



322 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1399 

P.S. Tuesday night. This, my dear Tony, is 
a sorrier postscript than I expected. I had just 
on Sunday night, in the small hours signed my 
name as above when my fond delusion of the 
cessation of my scare dropped from me and I 
became aware that I had, really, a fire " on." 
The rest was sad and I can't detail it but 
I've got off wondrous easy. We got the brave 
pumpers with creditable promptitude they were 
thoroughly up to the mark above all without 
trop de zele and the damage is limited wholly 
to one side of two rooms especially the room I 
was writing to you in so blandly. The pumpers 
were here till 5 and I slept not till the following 
(last) night. Still more, therefore, I repeat, it 
was you preserved me. Finishing my letter to 
you kept me on the spot and being on the spot 
was all. If I had had my head under the bed- 
clothes I wouldn't couldn't have sniffed till two 
or three hours later, when headway would have 
been gained and headway would have doubled, 
quadrupled damage, and perhaps even deprived 
you of this missive and its author altogether. 
Aussi je vous embrasse and am your startled but 
re-quieted and fully insured H. J. 

P.P.S. But look out for insidious under-fae- 
place-and-hearth tricks and traps in old houses ! 

P.S. Will you very kindly tell Frank Millet 
that I think of him with pride and joy and want 
so excruciatingly to see him and turn him on, 
that if I were stopping at home these next months 
I should extend toward him a long persuasive, 
somehow ingeniously alluring arm. 



AWT. 55 TO EDWARD WARREN 323 

To Edward Warren. 
(Telegram.) 

(Rye, 9.38 a.m., Feb. 27, 1899.) 
Am asking very great favour of your coming 
down for inside of day or for night if possible 
house took fire last night but only Green Room 
and Dining Room affected hot hearth in former 
igniting old beam beneath with tiresome conse- 
quences but excellent local brigade's help am now 
helpless in face of reconstructions of injured 
portions and will bless you mightily if you come 
departure of course put off Henry James. 

To William James. 

Le Plantier, 
Costebelle, 

Hyeres. 

April 22nd, 1899. 
Dearest William, 

I greatly appreciate the lucidity and liber- 
ality of your so interesting letter of the 19th, 
telling me of your views and prospects for next 
summer &c of all of which I am now able to 
make the most intimate profit. I enter fully 
into your reasons for wanting to put in the 
summer quietly and concentratedly in Cam- 
bridge so much that with work unfinished and 
a spacious house and library of your " very own " 
to contain you, I ask myself how you can be 
expected to do anything less. Only it all seems 
to mean that I shall see you all but scantly and 
remotely. However, I shall wring from it when 
the time comes every concession that can be 
snatched, and shall meanwhile watch your signs 
and symptoms with my biggest opera-glass (the 
beautiful one, one of the treasures of my life : 
que je vous dois.) 



324 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

Nothing you tell me gives me greater pleasure 
than what you say of the arrangements made for 
Harry and Billy in the forest primeval and the 
vision of their drawing therefrom experiences of 
a sort that I too miserably lacked (poor Father !) 
in my own too casual youth. What I most of all 
feel, and in the light of it conjure you to keep 
doing for them, is their being a meme to contract 
local saturations and attachments in respect to 
their own great and glorious country, to learn, 
and strike roots into, its infinite beauty, as I 
suppose, and variety. Then they won't, as I do 
now, have to assimilate, but half-heartedly, the 
alien splendours inferior ones too, as I believe 
of the indigestible midi of Bourget and the 
Vicomte Melchior de Vogue, kindest of hosts and 
most brilliant of commensaux as I am in the act 
of finding both these personages. The beauty 
here is, after my long stop at home, admirable 
and exquisite ; but make the boys, none the less, 
stick fast and sink up to their necks in everything 
their own countries and climates can give de 
pareil et de superieur. Its being that " own " 
will double their use of it. ... This little estate 
(two houses near together in a 25-acre walled 
" pare " of dense pine and cedar, along a terraced 
mountain-side, with exquisite views inland and 
to the sea) is a precious and enviable acquisition. 
The walks are innumerable, the pleasant " wild- 
ness " of the land (universally accessible) only 
another form of sweetness, and the light, the air, 
the noble, graceful lines &c, all of the first order. 
It's classic Claude Virgil. . . . 

I expect to get to Genoa on the 4th or 5th 
April, and there to make up my mind as to how 
I can best spend the following eight weeks, in 
Italy, in evasion and seclusion. Unhappily I 
must go to Rome, and Rome is infernal. But 
I shall make short work of it. My nostalgia for 



AST. 56 TO WILLIAM JAMES 325 

Lamb House is already such as to make me 
capable de tout. Never again will I leave it. 
I don't take you up on the Philippines I admire 
you and agree with you too much. You have 
an admirable eloquence. But the age is all to 
the vulgar ! . . . Farewell with a wide embrace. 
Ever your 

HENRY. 



To Howard Sturgis. 

Hotel de 1'Europe, Rome. 

May 19, 1899. 
My dear Howard, 

It's a great pleasure to hear from you in 
this far country though I greatly wish it weren't 
from the bed of anguish or at any rate of 
delicacy : if delicacy may be connected, that is, 
with anything so indelicate as a bed ! But I'm 
very glad to gather that it's the couch of con- 
valescence. Only, if you have a Back, for 
heaven's sake take care of it. When I was about 
your age in 1862 ! I did a bad damage (by a 
strain subsequently through crazy juvenility 
neglected) to mine ; the consequence of which is 
that, in spite of retarded attention, and years, 
really, of recumbency, later, I've been saddled 
with it for life, and that even now, my dear 
Howard, I verily write you with it. I even wrote 
The Awkward Age with it : therefore look sharp ! 
I wanted especially to send you that volume 
as an " acknowledgment " of princely hospi- 
talities received, and formed the intention of so 
doing even in the too scant moments we stood 
face to face among the Rembrandts. That's 
right be one of the few ! I greatly applaud the 
tact with which you tell me that scarce a human 
being will understand a word, or an intention, 
or an artistic element or glimmer of any sort, of 



326 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

my book. I tell myself and the " reviews " tell 
me such truths in much cruder fashion. But 
it's an old, old story and if I " minded " now 
as much as I once did, I should be well beneath 
the sod. Face to face I should be able to say a 
bit how I saw and why I so saw my subject. 
But that will keep. 

I'm here in a warmish, quietish, emptyish, 
pleasantish (but not maddeningly so,) altered and 
cockneyfied and scraped and all but annihilated 
Rome. I return to England some time next 
month (to the country Lamb House, Rye now 
my constant address only.) . . . However, this 
is only to greet and warn you and to be, my 
dear Howard, your affectionate old friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Mrs. Humphry Ward. 

The allusions at the end of this letter are to the visit 
paid by H. J. to Mr. and Mrs. Humphry Ward at the Villa 
Barberini, Castel Gandolfo, during his stay in Italy. Mrs. 
Ward has described the excursion to Nemi, " the straw- 
berries and Aristodemo," in A Writer's Recollections, pp. 
327-9. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

July 10th, 1899. 
Dear Mrs. Ward, 

I have a very bad conscience and a very 
heavy heart about my failure to communicate 
with you again before you left Rome for I heard 
(afterwards much afterwards) that you had had 
final trouble and inconvenience that Miss Ger- 
trude, brave being, tempted providence by her 
very bravery to renew its assaults and that 
illness and complications encumbered your last 
steps. On the subject of all this I ought long 
since to have condoled with you, in default of 
having condoled at the time yet lo, I have 



. 56 TO MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 327 

shamefully waited for the ignoble facility of my 
own table and inkstand, to which, after too pro- 
longed a separation, I have but just been restored. 
I got home from Turin but three days ago 
and very, very cool and green and wholesome 
(though only comparatively, I admit) does this 
little insular nook appear. After I last saw you 
I too was caught up, if not cast down, by the 
Fates whirled, by irresistible Marion Crawfords 
off to Sorrento, Capri, Naples all of which had 
not been in the least in my programme thence, 
afterwards, to live in heat and hurry and incon- 
venient submission and compromise till Flor- 
ence, in its turn, made a long arm and pocketed 
me (oh, so stuffily !) till but a few days ago. All 
this time I've been the slave of others and I 
return to a perfect mountain of unforwarded (by 
a rash and delusive policy) postal matter. But 
I bore through the mountain straight at Stocks 
or even, according to an intimation you gave 
me, at Grosvenor Place. I heartily hope all the 
crumples and stains of travel have by this time 
been washed and smoothed away and that you 
have nothing but romantic recollections and 
regrets. I pray Miss Ward be wholly at her ease 
again and that, somehow or other, you may have 
woven a big piece of your tapestry. I should 
say, frankly, " Mayn't I come down and see ? 
or hear ? " were it not that I return to fearful 
arrears myself, and restored to this small temple 
of application, from which I've so long been 
absent, feel absolutely obliged to sit tight for 
several weeks to come. Later in the summer, if 
you'll let me, I shall ask for an invitation. If all 
this while I've not sent you The Awkward Age it 
has been because I thought it not fair to make 
any such appeal to your attention while you were 
preoccupied and worried. Perhaps absolutely, 
in fact I wanted the book to reach you at a 



328 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

moment when the coast might be comparatively 
clear. Possibly it isn't clear even now. At all 
events I am writing to Heinemann to-day to 
despatch to you the volume. But please don't 
look at it till all the elements of leisure margin 
peace of mind lend themselves. And don't 
answer this. You have far other business in hand. 
My four months in Italy did more for me, I 
imagine, than I shall yet awhile know. One 
must draw on them a little to find out. Doubt- 
less you are drawing hard on yours. For me 
(I am clear about that) the Nemi Lake, and the 
walk down and up (the latter perhaps most,) and 
the strawberries and Aristodemo were the cream. 
It will be a joy to have it all out again with you 
and to hear of your other adventures. I hope 
Miss Dorothy and Miss Janet (please tell them) 
are finding London, if you are still there, come si 
deve. Yours and theirs and Humphry's, dear 
Mrs. Ward, very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Mrs. Humphry Ward. 

It will be understood that Mrs. Ward had consulted 
H. J. on certain details, relating in particular to the 
American background of one of the characters, in her 
forthcoming novel Eleanor, the scene of which was partly 
laid at Castel Gandolfo. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Sunday. [July 1899]. 
Dear Mrs. Ward, 

I return the proofs of Eleanor, in a separate 
cover from this, and as I think it wise to register 
them I must wait till to-morrow a.m. to do that, 
and this, therefore, will reach you first. Let me 
immediately say that I don't light (and I've read 
carefully every word, and many two or three 
times, as Mr. Bellasis would say and is Mr. B., 



ABE. 56 TO MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 329 

by the way, naturally as it were H. J. ???!!!) 
on any peccant particular spots in the aspect of 
Lucy F. that the American reader would chal- 
lenge. I do think he, or she, may be likely, at 
first, to think her more English than American 
to say, I mean : " Why, this isn't us it's English 
' Dissent.' : For it's well generally to keep 
in mind how very different a thing that is (socially, 
aesthetically &c.) from the American free (and 
easy) multitudinous churches that, practically, 
in any community, are like so many (almost) 
clubs or Philharmonics or amateur theatrical 
companies. I don't quite think the however 
obscure American girl I gather you to conceive 
would have any shockability about Rome, the 
Pope, St. Peter's, kneeling, or anything of that 
sort least of all any girl whose concatenations 
could, by any possibility of social handing-on, land 
her in the milieu you present at Albano. She 
would probably be either a Unitarian or " Ortho- 
dox " (which is, I believe, " Congregational," 
though in New England always called " Ortho- 
dox ") and in either case as Emersonized, Haw- 
thornized, J. A. Symondsized, and as " frantic " 
to feel the Papacy &c, as one could well represent 
her. And this, I mean, even were she of any 
provincial New England circle whatever that one 
could conceive as ramifying, however indirectly, 
into Villa Barb. This particularly were her 
father a college professor. In that case I should 
say "The bad clothes &c, oh yes; as much as 
you like. The beauty &c, scarcely. The offish- 
ness to Rome as a spectator &c. almost not 
at all." All this, roughly and hastily speaking. 
But there is no false note of surface, beyond this, 
I think, that you need be uneasy about at all. 
Had I looked over your shoulder I should have 
said : " Specify, localise, a little more give her 
a definite Massachusetts, or Maine, or whatever, 



330 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

habitation imagine a country-college-town in- 
vent, if need be, a name, and stick to that." 
This for smallish, but appreciable reasons that 
I haven't space to develop but after all not 
imperative. For the rest the chapters you send 
me are, as a beginning, to my vision very charm- 
ing and interesting and pleasing full of promise 
of strong elements as your beginnings always 
are. 

And may I say (as I can read nothing, if I read 
it at all, save in the light of how one would one's 
self proceed in tackling the same data !) just two 
other things ? One is that I think your material 
suffers a little from the fact that the reader feels 
you approach your subject too immediately r , show 
him its elements, the cards in your hand, too 
bang off from the first page so that a wait to 
begin to guess what and whom the thing is going 
to be about doesn't impose itself : the ante- 
chamber or two and the crooked corridor before 
he is already in the Presence. The other is that 
you don't give him a positive sense of dealing 
with your subject from its logical centre. This 
centre I gathered to be, from what you told me 
in Rome (and one gathers it also from the title,) 
the consciousness of Eleanor to which all the 
rest (Manisty, Lucy, the whole phantasmagoria 
and drama) is presented by life. I should have 
urged you : " Make that consciousness full, rich, 
universally prehensile and stick to it don't shift 
and don't shift arbitrarily how, otherwise, do 
you get your unity of subject or keep up your 
reader's sense of it ? ' : To which, if you say : 
How then do I get Lucy's consciousness, I im- 
pudently retort : " By that magnificent and 
masterly indirectness which means the only dra- 
matic straightness and intensity. You get it, in 
other words, by Eleanor." " And how does 
Eleanor get it ? " " By Everything ! By Lucy, 



AET. 56 TO MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 831 

by Manisty, by every pulse of the action in which 
she is engaged and of which she is the fullest 
an exquisite register. Go behind her miles and 
miles ; don't go behind the others, or the subject 
i.e. the unity of impression goes to smash." 
But I am going too far and this is more than 
you will have bargained for. On these matters 
there is far too much to say. This makes me all 
the more sorry that, in answer to your kind 
invitation for the last of this month, I greatly 
fear I can't leave home for several weeks to come. 
I am in hideous backwardness with duties that 
after a long idleness (six full months !) have 
awaited me here and I am cultivating " a unity 
of impression ! ' : In October with joy. 

Your history of your journey from V.B., your 
anxieties, complications, horrid tension and tribu- 
lation, draws hot tears from my eyes. I blush 
for the bleak inn at the bare Simplon. I only 
meant it for rude, recovered health. Poor Miss 
Gertrude heroine partout et toujours and so 
privately, modestly, exquisitely. Give her, please, 
all my present benediction. And forgive my 
horrid, fatigued hieroglyphics. Do let me have 
more of " Eleanor " to re- write ! And believe 
me, dear Mrs. Ward, ever constantly yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. I've on reflection determined that as a 
registered letter may not, perhaps, reach Stocks 
till Tuesday a.m. and you wish to despatch for 
Wednesday's steamer, it is my " higher duty ' : 
to send the proofs off in ordinary form, apart 
from this, but to-night. May it be for the best ! 

H. J. 



332 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 



To Mrs. Humphry Ward. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

July 26th, 1899. 
Dear Mrs. Ward, 

I beg you not to believe that if you elicit 
a reply from me to your so interesting letter 
just received you do so at any cost to any 
extreme or uncomfortable pressure that I'm just 
now under. I am always behind with every- 
thing and it's no worse than usual. Besides I 
shall be very brief.* But I must say two or 
three words not only because these are the 
noblest speculations that can engage the human 
mind, but because to a degree that distresses 
me you labour under two or three mistakes as 
to what, the other day, I at all wanted to express. 
I don't myself, for that matter, recognise what 
you mean by any " old difference " between us 
on any score and least of all when you appear 
to glance at it as an opinion of mine (if I under- 
stand you, that is,) as to there being but one 
general " hard and fast rule of presentation." I 
protest that I have never had with you any 
difference consciously on any such point, and 
rather resent, frankly, your attributing to me a 
judgment so imbecile. I hold that there are five 
million such " rules " (or as many as there are 
subjects in all the world I fear the subjects are 
not 5,000,000 !) only each of them imposed, 
artistically, by the particular case involved in 
the writer's responsibility to it ; and each then 
and then only " hard and fast " with an im- 
mitigable hardness and fastness. I don't see, 
without this latter condition, where any work of 
art, any artistic question is, or any artistic probity. 
Of course, a 1000 times, there are as many mag- 

* Later ! ! ! ! Latest. Don't rejoin I don't ! 



. 56 TO MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 333 

nificent and imperative cases as you like of 
presenting a thing by " going behind " as many 
forms of consciousness as you like all Dickens, 
Balzac, Thackeray, Tolstoi (save when they use 
the autobiographic dodge,) are huge illustrations 
of it. But they are illustrations of extreme and 
calculated selection, or singleness, too, whenever 
that has been, by the case, imposed on them. 
My own immortal works, for that matter, if I 
may make bold, are recognizable instances of all 
the variation. I " go behind " right and left in 
" The Princess Casamassima," " The Bostonians," 
" The Tragic Muse," just as I do the same but 
singly in " The American " and " Maisie," and 
just as I do it consistently never at all (save for a 
false and limited appearance, here and there, of 
doing it a little, which I haven't time to explain) 
in " The Awkward Age." So far from not seeing 
what you mean in Pecheur d'lslande, I see it as 
a most beautiful example a crystal-clear one. 
It's a picture of a relation (a single relation) and 
that relation isn't given at all unless given on 
both sides, because, practically, there are no other 
relations to make other feet for the situation to 
walk withal. The logic jumps at the eyes. 
Therefore acquit me, please, please, of anything 
so abject as putting forward anything at once 
specific and a priori. " Then why," I hear you 
ask, " do you pronounce for my book a priori ? " 
Only because of a mistake, doubtless, for which 
I do here humble penance that of assuming too 
precipitately, and with the freedom of an in- 
evitably too-foreshortened letter, that I was 
dealing with it a posteriori ! and that on the 
evidence of only those few pages and of a some- 
what confused recollection of what, in Rome, you 
told me of your elements. Or rather more 
correctly Pwas giving way to my irresistible 
need of wondering how, given the subject, one 



334 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 

could best work one's self into the presence of it. 
And, lo and behold, the subject isn't (of course, 
in so scant a show and brief a piece) " given " at 
all I have doubtless simply, with violence and 
mutilation, stolen it. It is of the nature of that 
violence that I'm a wretched person to read a 
novel I begin so quickly and concomitantly, for 
myself, to write it rather even before I know 
clearly what it's about ! The novel I can only 
read, I can't read at all ! And I had, to be just 
with me, one attenuation I thought I gathered 
from the pages already absorbed that your parti 
pris as to your process with " Eleanor " was 
already defined and defined as " dramatic " 
and that was a kind of lead : the people all, as 
it were, phenomenal to a particular imagination 
(hers) and that imagination, with all its contents, 
phenomenal to the reader. I, in fine, just rudely 
and egotistically thrust forward the beastly way 
/ should have done it. But there is too much to 
say about these things and I am writing too 
much and yet haven't said half I want to 
and, above all, there being so much, it is doubtless 
better not to attempt to say pen in hand what 
one can say but so partially. And yet I must 
still add one or two things more. What I said 
above about the " rule " of presentation being, 
in each case, hard and fast, that I will go to the 
stake and burn with slow fire for the slowest 
that will burn at all. I hold the artist must 
(infinitely !) know how he is doing it, or he is not 
doing it at all. I hold he must have a perception 
of the interests of his subject that grasps him as 
in a vise, and that (the subject being of course 
formulated in his mind) he sees as sharply the 
way that most presents it, and presents most of 
it, as against the ways that comparatively give 
it away. And he must there choose and stick 
and be consistent and that is the hard-and- 



AST. 66 TO MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 335 

fastness and the vise. I am afraid I do differ 
with you if you mean that the picture can get 
any objective unity from any other source than 
that ; can get it from, e.g., the " personality of 
the author." From the personality of the author 
(which, however enchanting, is a thing for the 
reader only, and not for the author himself, with- 
out humiliating abdications, to my sense, to count 
in at all) it can get nothing but a unity of execu- 
tion and of tone. There is no short cut for the 
subject, in other words, out of the process, which, 
having made out most what it (the subject) is, 
treats it most, handles it, in that relation, with 
the most consistent economy. May I say, to 
exonerate myself a little, that when, e.g., I see 
you make Lucy " phenomenal " to Eleanor (one 
has to express it briefly and somehow,) I find 
myself supposing completely that you " know 
how you're doing it," and enjoy, as critic, the 
sweet peace that comes with that sense. But 
I haven't the sense that you " know how you're 
doing it " when, at the point you've reached, 
I see you make Lucy phenomenal, even for one 
attempted stroke, to the little secretary of 
embassy. And the reason of this is that Eleanor 
counts as presented, and thereby is something to 
go behind. The secretary doesn't count as pre- 
sented (and isn't he moreover engaged, at the 
very moment your moment in being pheno- 
menal himself, to Lucy ?) and is therefore, practi- 
cally, nothing to go behind. The promiscuous 
shiftings of standpoint and centre of Tolstoi and 
Balzac for instance (which come, to my eye, from 
their being not so much big dramatists as big 
painters as Loti is a painter,) are the inevitable 
result of the quantity of presenting their genius 
launches them in. With the complexity they 
pile up they can get no clearness without trying 
again and again for new centres. And they don't 



336 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1399 

always get it. However, I don't mean to say 
they don't get enough. And I hasten to add 
that you have I wholly recognise every right 
to reply to me : " Cease your intolerable chatter 
and dry up your preposterous deluge. If you 
will have the decent civility to wait, you will see 
that / ' present ' also anch' io ! enough for 
every freedom I use with it ! " And with my 
full assent to that, and my profuse prostration 
in the dust for this extravagant discourse, with 
all faith, gratitude, appreciation and affection, 
I do cease, dear Mrs. Ward, I dry up ! and am 
yours most breathlessly, HENRY jAMEg 

To Mrs. A. F. de Navarro. 

The "priceless volume" was an album belonging to Mrs. 
de Navarro (Miss Mary Anderson), in which she had asked 
H. J. to inscribe some words. His contribution, given 
below, recalls a memory of Miss Anderson before she left 
the stage. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Oct. 13: 1899. 

Dearest, greatest lady, 

I've filled a page, with my horrid hiero- 
glyphics, in the priceless volume and my char- 
acters are the more unsightly for having to be 
squeezed in for I found that to point my little 
moral I had to take more than 20 words. For- 
give their sad futility. I hope I understood you 
right that I was to do it opposite Watts I 
obeyed your law to what I supposed to be the 
letter. If I'm not quite correct, I can assure 
you that it will be the only time I shall ever 
break it ! Yours and Tony's very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. The volume goes by to-morrow a.m.'s 
post ; tenderly and stoutly wrapped, violently 
sealed, convulsively corded and rigorously regis- 
tered. Bon voyage ! 



. 56 TO MRS. A. F. DE NAVARRO 337 

THE GOLDEN DREAM. 

A LITTLE TALE. 

It was in the days of his golden dreams that 
he first saw her, and she immediately became one 
of them made them glow with a new rosy fire. 
The first night, on leaving the theatre in his 
breathless ecstasy, he could scarce compose him- 
self to go home : he wandered over the town, 
murmuring to himself " I want, oh I want to 
write something for her ! " He went again and 
again to see her he was always there, and after 
each occasion, and even as the months and years 
rolled by, kept repeating to himself, and even to 
others, what he did want to. Now one of these 
others was his great friend, who, irritated and 
probably jealous, coldly and cynically replied : 
" You may want to, but you won't. No, you 
will never write anything." 

" I will ! '" he vehemently insisted. And he 
added in presumptuous confidence : " Just wait 
till she asks me ! " And so they kept it up, and 
he said that too often for the G.F., who, exas- 
perated, ended by retorting : 

" She never will ! " 

" Well, you see if she doesn't ! v 

" You must think " said the G.F. scathingly. 

44 Well, what ? " 

" Why, that she thinks you're somebody." 

" She'll find out in time that I am. Then 
she'll ask me." 

" Ask who you are ? " 

" No " with majesty. " To write something." 

" Then I shall be sorry for her. Because you 
won't." 

" Why not ? " 

" Because you can't ! " 



338 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1399 

" Oh ! " But the months and years revolved, 
and at last his dream came true ; also it befell 
that, just at the same moment, the G.F. re- 
appeared ; to whom he broke out ecstatically : 
" I told you so ! She has found out ! She has 
asked me." 

The G.F. was imperturbable. "What's the 
use ? You can't." 

" You'll see if I can't ! >: And he sat down 
and tried. Oh, he tried long he tried hard. 
But the G.F. was right. It was too late. He 
couldn't. 

HENRY JAMES. 

Lamb House, Rye. Oct. 13, 1899. 

To Sidney Colvin. 

The following refers to R. L. Stevenson's Letters to his 
Family and Friends, edited by Sir Sidney Colvin. H. J.'s 
article appeared in the North American Review, January 
1900, and was afterwards reprinted in Notes on Novelists. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Wednesday night. 

[October 1899.] 
My dear Colvin, 

Many things hindered my quietly and im- 
mediately reabsorbing the continuity of the two 
gathered volumes, and I have delayed till this 
the acknowledgment of your letter (sent a few 
days after them,) I having already written (hadn't 
I ?) before the letter arrived. I have spent much 
of the last two days with them beautifully and 
sadly enough. I think you need have no doubt 
as to the impression the constituted book will 
make it will be one of extraordinarily rare, 
particular and individual beauty. I want to 
write about it really critically, if I can i.e. 
intelligently and interpretatively but I sigh 



AET. 56 TO SIDNEY COLVIN 339 

before the difficulty. Still, I shall probably try. 
One thing it seems to me I foresee i.e. a demand 
for more letters. There are more publishable ? 
aren't there ? But you will tell me of this. How 
extraordinarily fine the long (almost last of all) 
one to his cousin Bob ! If there were only more 
de cette force \ But there couldn't be. " I think 
I think " the impression more equal than you 
do indeed some of the early ones better than 
the earlier ones after expatriation. But the whole 
series reek with charm and hum with genius. It 
will serve as a high memorial by which I mean 
as a large (comprehensive) one. Remember that 
I shall be delighted to see you on the 18th. I 
may be alone or Jon Sturges may be here. 
Probably nessun' altro. Please communicate your 
decision as to this at your convenience. If not 
then, then on one of the next Saturdays, I hope ! 
What horridly overdarkening S. African news ! 
One must sit close but for too long. 
Yours ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. Re-reading your letter makes me feel I 
haven't perhaps answered enough your query 
about early vol. I. I don't, however, see what 
you need be uneasy about. The young flame of 
life and agitation of genius in them flickers and 
heaves only to make one regret whatever (more) 
is not there : never to make one feel your dis- 
cretion has anywhere been at fault. I'm not 
sure I don't think it has erred a little on the side 
of over-suppression. One has the vague sense of 
omissions and truncations one smells the things 
unprinted. However, that doubtless had to be. 
But I don't see any mistake you have made. 
With less, there would have been no history 
and one wants what made, what makes for his 
history. It all does and so would more. But 



340 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

you have given nothing that valuably doesn't. 
Be at peace. 

H. J. 



To Edmund Gosse. 

This refers to a suggestion that Stevenson's body should 
be removed from his place of burial, on the mountain-top 
above Vailima, and brought home. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Sunday [Nov. 12, 1899]. 

My dear Gosse, 

I wholly agree with you as to any motion 
toward the preposterous and unseemly deporta- 
tion from their noble resting-place of those illus- 
trious and helpless ashes. I find myself, some- 
how, unable to think of Louis in these days (much 
more to speak of him) without an emotion akin 
to tears ; and such blatant busybody ineptitude 
causes the cup to overflow and sickens as well as 
enrages. But nothing but cheap newspaperism 
will come of it it has in it the power, fortunately, 
to drop, utterly and abysmally, if not touched 
if decently ignored. Don't write a protest 
don't write anything : simply hush I The lurid 
asininity of the hour ! 

... I will write you about your best train 
Saturday which heaven speed ! It will prob- 
ably be the 3.23 from Charing Cross better, 
really, than the (new) 5.15 from St. Paul's. 
I find S. Africa a nightmare and need cheering. 
Arrive therefore primed for that office. 
Ever yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AET. 56 TO MISS HENRIETTA REUBELL 341 



To Miss Henrietta Reubell. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Sunday midnight. 
[Nov. 12th, 1899.] 

Dear Miss Reubell, 

I have had great pleasure of your last good 
letter and this is a word of fairly prompt recon- 
naissance. Your bewilderment over The Awk- 
ward Age doesn't on the whole surprise me for 
that ingenious volume appears to have excited 
little but bewilderment except indeed, here, thick- 
witted denunciation. A work of art that one 
has to explain fails in so far, I suppose, of its 
mission. I suppose I must at any rate mention 
that I had in view a certain special social (highly 
ic modern " and actual) London group and type 
and tone, which seemed to me to se preter a 
merveille to an ironic lightly and simply ironic ! 
treatment, and that clever people at least 
would know who, in general, and what, one 
meant. But here, at least, it appears there are 
very few clever people ! One must point with 
finger-posts one must label with pancartes one 
must explain with conferences ! The form, doubt- 
less, of my picture is against it a form all 
dramatic and scenic of presented episodes, archi- 
tecturally combined and each making a piece of 
the building ; with no going behind, no telling 
about the figures save by their own appearance 
and action and with explanations reduced to the 
explanation of everything by all the other things 
in the picture. Mais il parait qu'il ne faut pas 
faire comme ca : personne n'y comprend rien : 
j'en suis pour mes frais qui avaient ete con- 
siderables, tres considerables ! Yet I seem to 
make out you were interested and that consoles 
me. I think Mrs. Brook the best thing I've ever 



342 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

done and Nanda also much done. Voila ! 
Mitchy marries Aggie by a calculation in con- 
sequence of a state of mind delicate and deep, 
but that I meant to show on his part as highly 
conceivable. It's absolute to him that N. will 
never have him and she appeals to him for 
another girl, whom she sees him as " saving " 
(from things realities she sees). If he does it 
(and she shows how she values him by wanting 
it) it is still a way of getting and keeping near 
her of making for her, to him, a tie of gratitude. 
She becomes, as it were, to him, responsible for 
his happiness they can't (especially if the 
marriage goes ill) not be given the girl that 
Nanda is more, rather than less, together. And 
the finale of the picture justifies him : it leaves 
Nanda, precisely, with his case on her hands. 
Far-fetched ? Well, I daresay : but so are 
diamonds and pearls and the beautiful Reubell 
turquoises ! So I scribble to you, to be sociable, 
by my loud-ticking clock, in this sleeping little 
town, at my usual more than midnight hour. 

. . . Well, also, I'm like you I like growing 
(that is I like, for many reasons, being) old : 56 ! 
But I don't like growing older. I quite love my 
present age and the compensations, simplifica- 
tions, freedom, independences, memories, advan- 
tages of it. But I don't keep it long enough 
it passes too quickly. But it mustn't pass all 
(good as that is) in writing to you ! There is 
nothing I shall like more to dream of than to be 
convoyed by you to the expositionist Kraals of 
the Savages and the haunts of the cannibals. 
I surrender myself to you de confiance in vision 
and hope for that purpose. Jonathan Sturges 
lives, year in, year out, at Long's Hotel, Bond 
St., and promises to come down here and see me, 
but never does. He knows hordes of people, 
every one extraordinarily likes him, and he has 



. 56 TO MISS HENRIETTA REUBELL 343 

tea-parties for pretty ladies : one at a time. 
Alas, he is three quarters of the time ill ; but 
his little spirit is colossal. Sargent grows in 
weight, honour and interest to my view. He 
does one fine thing after another and his cruci- 
fixion (that is big Crucifie with Adam and Eve 
under each arm of cross catching drops of blood) 
for Boston Library is a most noble, grave and 
admirable thing. But it's already to-morrow and 
I am yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To H. G. Wells. 

Lamb House, Rye 
November 20th, 1899. 
My dear H. G. Wells, 

You reduce me to mere gelatinous grovel. 
And the worst of it is that you know so well how. 
You, with a magnanimity already so marked as 
to be dazzling, sent me last summer a beautiful 
and discouraging volume which I never mastered 
the right combination of minutes and terms to 
thank you for as it deserved and then, perfectly 
aware that this shameful consciousness had prac- 
tically converted me to quivering pulp, you let 
fly the shaft that has finished me in the fashion 
to which I now so distressfully testify. It is 
really most kind and charming of you, and the 
incident will figure largely in all your eventual 
biographies : yet it is almost more than I can 
bear. Seriously, I am extremely touched by your 
great humanity in the face of my atrocious bad 
manners. I think the reason why I didn't write 
to thank you for the magnificent romance of 
three or four months ago was that I simply 
dreaded a new occasion for still more purple 
perjury on the subject of coming over to see 
you ! I was I am \ coming : and yet I couldn't 



344 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

and I can't say it without steeping myself 
afresh in apparent falsehood, to the eyes. It is 
a weird tale of the acharnement of fate against an 
innocent action I mean the history of my now 
immemorial failure : which I must not attempt 
to tell you thus and now, but reserve for your 
convinced (from the moment it isn't averted) ear 
on the day, and at the very hour and moment, 
that failure is converted to victory. I AM coming. 
I was lately extremely sorry to hear that you 
have been somewhat unwell again unless it be 
a gross exaggeration. Heaven send that same. 
I AM coming. I thank you very cordially for the 
two beautiful books. The new tales I have 
already absorbed and, to the best of my powers, 
assimilated. You fill me with wonder and ad- 
miration. I think you have too great an un- 
awareness of difficulty and (for instance) that 
the four big towns and nice blue foods and 
belching news-trumpets, etc., will be the least of 
the differences in the days to come. But it's 
unfair to say that without saying a deal more : 
which I can't, and [which] isn't worth it and is 
besides irrelevant and ungracious. Your spirit 
is huge, your fascination irresistible, your re- 
sources infinite. That is much more to the point. 
And I AM coming. I heartily hope that if you 
have been incommoded it is already over, and for 
a corrigible cause. I AM coming. Recall me, 
please, kindly to Mrs. Wells, and believe me (I 
AM coming,) very truly (and veraciously) yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AET. 56 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 345 

To Charles Eliot Norton. 
Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
* Please read postscript first. 

24 November 1899. 
My dear Charles, 

I heartily welcomed your typed letter of a 
couple of months ago, both for very obvious and 
for respectable subsidiary reasons. I am almost 
altogether reduced I would much rather say 
promoted to type myself, and to communicate 
with a friend who is in the same predicament 
only adds to the luxury of the business. I was 
never intended by nature to write much less to 
be, without anguish, read ; and I have recog- 
nised that perfectly patent law late in the day 
only, when I might so much better have recog- 
nised it early. It would have made a great 
difference in my life made me a much more 
successful person. But " the New England con- 
science " interposed ; suggesting that the sense 
of being so conveniently assisted could only pro- 
ceed, somehow, from the abyss. So I floundered 
and fumbled and failed, through long years, for 
the mere want of the small dose of cynical courage 
required for recognising frankly my congenital 
inaptitude. Another proof, or presumption, 
surely, of the immortality of the soul. It takes 
one whole life for some persons, at least, dont 
je suis to learn how to live at all ; which is 
absurd if there is not to be another in which to 
apply the lesson. I feel that in my next career 
I shall start, in this particular at least, from the 
first, straight. Thank heaven I don't write such 
a hand as you ! Then where would my con- 
science be ? 



346 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

You wrote me from Ashfield, and I can give 
you more than country for country, as I am still, 
thank heaven, out of town which is more and 
more my predominant and natural state. I am 
only reacting, I suppose, against many, many 
long years of London, which has ended by giving 
me a deep sense of the quantity of " cry " in all 
that life compared to the almost total absence 
of " wool." By which I mean, simply, that 
acquaintances and relations there have a way of 
seeming at last to end in smoke while having 
consumed a great deal of fuel and taken a great 
deal of time. I dare say I shall some day re- 
establish the balance, and I have kept my habi- 
tation there, though I let it whenever I can ; but 
at present I am as conscious of the advantage of 
the Sussex winter as of that of the Sussex summer. 
But I've just returned from three days in London, 
mainly taken up with seeing my brother William, 
as to whom your letter contained an anxious 
inquiry to which I ought before this to have 
done justice. The difficulty has been, these three 
months, that he has been working, with the most 
approved medical and " special " aid, for a 
change of condition, which one hoped would have 
been apparent by now so that one might have 
good news to give. I am sorry to say the change 
remains, as yet, but imperfectly apparent 
though I dare say it has, within the last month, 
really begun. His German cure Nauheim was 
a great disappointment ; but he is at present in 
the hands of the best London man, who professes 
himself entirely content with results actually 
reached. The misfortune is that the regimen and 
treatment the " last new " one are superficially 
depressing and weakening even when they are 
doing the right work ; and from that, now, I take 
William to be suffering. Ci vuol pazienza ! He 
will probably spend the winter in England, what- 



AST. 56 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 347 

ever happens. Only, alas, his Edinburgh lectures 
are indefinitely postponed and other renounce- 
ments, of an unenlivening sort, have had, as 
indispensable precautions and prudences, to follow. 
They have placed their little girl very happily at 
school, near Windsor ; they are in convenient 
occupation, at present, of my London apartment ; 
and luckily the autumn has been, as London 
autumns go, quite cheerfully distinguishably 
crepuscular. I am two hours and a half from 
town ; which is far enough, thank heaven, not 
to be near, and yet near enough, from the point 
of view of shillings, invasions and other compli- 
cations, not to be far ; they have been with me 
for a while, and I am looking for them again for 
longer. William is able, fortunately, more or 
less to read, and strikes me as so richly prepared, 
by an immense quantity of this to speak of that 
feature alone for the Edinburgh lectures that 
the pity of the frustration comes home the more. 
A truce, however, to this darksome picture 
which may very well yet improve. 

I went, a month ago, during a day or two in 
town, down to Rottingdean to lunch with the 
Kiplings (those Brighton trains are wondrous !) 
but failed, to my regret, to see Lady Burne- Jones, 
their immediate neighbour, as of course you know ; 
who was perversely, though most accidentally, 
from home. But they told me and it was the 
first I knew of her big project of publishing the 
dear beautiful man's correspondence : copious, 
it appears, in a degree of which I had not a 
conception. Living, in London, near him, though 
not seeing him, thanks to the same odious 
London, half so often as I desired, I seldom 
heard from him on paper, and hadn't, at all, in 
short, the measure of his being, as the K.'s 
assured me he proves to have been, a " great 
letter- writer." 



348 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1*99 

(28th Nov.) 

I was interrupted, my dear Charles, the other 
day : difficulties then multiplied, and I only now 
catch on again. I see, on reading over your 
letter, that you are quite au courant of Lady 
B. J.'s plan ; and I of course easily take in that 
she must have asked you, as one of his closest 
correspondents, for valuable material. Yet I 
don't know that I wholly echo your deprecation 
of these givings to the world. The best letters 
seem to me the most delightful of all written 
things and those that are not the best the most 
negligible. If a correspondence, in other words, 
has not the real charm, I wouldn't have it pub- 
lished even privately ; if it has, on the other 
hand, I would give it all the glory of the greatest 
literature. B. J.'s, I should say, must have it 
(the real charm) since he did, as appears, sur- 
render to it. Is this not so ? At all events we 
shall indubitably see .... As for B. J., I miss 
him not less, but more, as year adds itself to 
year ; and the hole he has left in the London 
horizon, the eclipse of the West Kensington 
oasis, is a thing much to help one to turn one's 
back on town : and this in spite of the fact that 
his work, alas, had long ceased to interest me, 
with its element of painful, niggling embroidery 
the stitch- by- stitch process that had come at 
last to beg the painter question altogether. Even 
the poetry the kind of it that he tried for 
appeared to me to have wandered away from the 
real thing ; and yet the being himself grew only 
more loveable, natural and wise. Too late, too 
late ! I gather, a propos of him, that you have 
read Mackail's Morris ; which seems to me quite 
beautifully and artistically done wonderful to 
say for a contemporary English biography. It 
is really composed, the effect really produced 
an effect not altogether, I think, happy, or even 



. 56 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 349 

endurable, as regards Morris himself for whom 
the formula strikes me as being being at least 
largely that he was a boisterous, boyish, British 
man of action and practical faculty, launched 
indeed by his imagination, but really floundering 
and romping and roaring through the arts, both 
literary and plastic, very much as a bull through 
a china-shop. I felt much moved, after reading 
the book, to try to write, with the aid of some of 
my own recollections and impressions, something 
possibly vivid about it ; but we are in a moment 
of such excruciating vulgarity that nothing worth 
doing about anything or anyone seems to be 
wanted or welcomed anywhere. The great little 
Rudyard a propos of Rottingdean struck me 
as quite on his feet again, and very sane and 
sound and happy. Yet I am afraid you'll think 
me a very disgusted person if I show my reserves, 
again, over his recent incarnations. I can't 
swallow his loud, brazen patriotic verse an 
exploitation of the patriotic idea, for that matter, 
which seems to me not really much other than 
the exploitation of the name of one's mother or 
one's wife. Two or three times a century yes ; 
but not every month. He is, however, such an 
embodied little talent, so economically con- 
structed for all use and no waste, that he will 
get again upon a good road leading not into 
mere multitudinous noise. His talent I think 
quite diabolically great ; and this in spite here 
I am at it again ! of the misguided, the un- 
fortunate " Stalky." Stalky gives him away, 
aesthetically, as a man in his really now, as 
regards our roaring race, bardic condition, should 
not have allowed himself to be given. That is 
not a thing, however, that, in our paradise of 
criticism, appears to occur to so much as three 
persons, and meanwhile the sale, I believe, is 
tremendous. Basta, basta. 



350 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1899 

We are living, of course, under the very black 
shadow of S. Africa, where the nut is proving a 
terribly hard one to crack, and where, alas, 
things will probably be worse before they are 
better. One ranges one's self, on the whole, to 
the belief not only that they will be better, but 
that they really had to be taken in hand to be 
made so ; they wouldn't and couldn't do at all 
as they were. But the job is immense, compli- 
cated as it is by distance, transport, and many 
preliminary illusions and stupidities ; friends 
moreover, right and left, have their young bar- 
barians in the thick of it and are living so, from 
day to day, in suspense and darkness that, in 
certain cases, their images fairly haunt one. It 
reminds me strangely of some of the far-away 
phases and feelings of our big, dim war. What 
tremendously ancient history that now seems ! 
But I am launching at you, my dear Charles, a 
composition of magnitude when I meant only 
to encumber you with a good, affectionate note. 
I have presently to take on myself a care that 
may make you smile ; nothing less than to 
proceed, a few moments hence, to Dover, to 
meet our celebrated friend (I think she can't not 
be yours) Mrs. Jack Gardner, who arrives from 
Brussels, charged with the spoils of the Flemish 
school, and kindly pays me a fleeting visit on 
her way up to town. I must rush off, help her 
to disembark, see all her Van Eycks and Rubenses 
through the Customs and bring her hither, where 
three water-colours and four photographs of the 
" Rye school " will let her down easily. My 
little backwater is just off the highway from 
London to the Continent. I am really quite near 
Dover, and it's absurd how also quite near Italy 
that makes me feel. To get there without the 
interposition of the lumbering London, or even, 
if need be, of the bristling Paris, seems so to 



. 36 TO CHARLES ELIOT NORTON 351 

simplify the matter to the mind. And yet, I 
grieve to say that, in a residence here of a year 
and a half, I have only been to patria nostra 
once. . . . Good-bye, my dear Charles I must 
catch my train. Fortunately I am but three 
minutes from the station. Fortunately, also, you 
are not to associate with this fact anything grimy 
or noisy or otherwise suggestive of fever and fret. 
At Rye even the railway is quaint or at least 
its neighbours are. 

Yours always affectionately, 

HENRY JAMES. 

January 13, 1900. 

P.S. This should be a prescript rather than a 
postscript, my dear Charles, to prepare you pro- 
perly for the monstrosity of my having dictated 
a letter to you so long ago and then kept it over 
unposted into the next century if next century 
it be ! (They are fighting like cats and dogs here 
as to where in our speck of time we are.) There 
has been a method in my madness my delay 
has not quite been, not wholly been, an accident ; 
though there was at first that intervention. 
What happened was that I had to dash off and 
catch a train before I had time to read this over 
and enclose it ; and that on the close of that 
adventure, which lasted a couple of days and 
was full of distractions, I had in a still more 
belated and precipitate way to rush up to London. 
These sheets, meanwhile, languished in an unfre- 
quented drawer into which, after hurrying off, 
I had at random thrust them ; and there they 
remained till my return from London which 
was not for nearly a fortnight. When I came 
back here I brought down William and his wife, 
the former, at the time, so off his balance as to 
give me almost nothing but him to think about ; 
and it thereby befell that some days more elapsed 



352 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

before I rediscovered my letter. Reading it over 
then, I had the feeling that it gave a somewhat 
unduly emphasised account of W. ; whereupon 
I said to myself : " Since it has waited so long, 
I will keep it a while longer ; so as to be able to 
tell better things." That is just, then, what I 
have done ; and I am very glad, in consequence, 
to be able to tell them. Only I am again (it 
seems a fate ! giving you a strangely false 
impression of my normally quiet life) on the 
point of catching a train. I go with W. and A., 
a short time hence, on again ! to Dover a 
very small and convenient journey from this 
to see them so far on their way to the pursuit, 
for the rest of the winter, of southern sunshine. 
They will cross the Channel to-morrow or next 
day and proceed as they find convenient to 
Hyeres which, as he himself has written to you, 
you doubtless already know. I do, at any rate, 
feel much more at ease about him now. The 
sight of the good he can get even by sitting for 
a chance hour or two, all muffled and hot-watered, 
in such sun, pale and hindered sun, as a poor 
little English garden can give him in midwinter, 
quite makes me feel that a real climate, the real 
thing, will do much toward making him over. 
He needs it though differently even as a con- 
sumptive does. And moreover he has become, 
these last weeks, much more fit to go and find it. 
Q.E.D. But this shall be posted. Yours more 
than ever before, TT j 

To Edmund Gosse. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

January 1st, 1900. 
My dear Gosse, 

I much welcome your note and feel the 
need of exonerations as to my own notelessness. 



AET. 56 TO EDMUND GOSSE 353 

It was very good of you, staggering on this 
gruesome threshold and meeting only new bur- 
dens, I fear (of correspondence,) as its most 
immediate demonstration, to find a moment to 
waggle me so much as a little finger. I was 
painfully conscious of my long silence after a 
charming book from you, never properly acknow- 
ledged, etc. ; but I have been living with very 
few odd moments or off-hours of leisure, and my 
neglect of every one and everything is now past 
reparation. The presence with me of my brother, 
sister-in-law and little niece has, with a par- 
ticular pressure of work, walled me in and con- 
demned my communications. My brother, for 
whom this snug and secure little nook appears 
to have been soothing and sustaining, is better 
than when he came, and I am proportionately 
less depressed ; but I still go on tiptoe and live 
from day to day. However, that way one does 
go on. They go, probably, by the middle of the 
month, to the South of France and a right 
climate, a real one, has presumably much to 
give him. . . . 

I never thanked you en connaissance de cause 
for M. Hewlett's Italian Novelle : of so brilliant 
a cleverness and so much more developed a one 
than his former book. They are wonderful for 
" go " and grace and general ability, and would 
almost make me like the genre, if anything could. 
But I so hunger and thirst, in this deluge of cheap 
romanticism and chromolithographic archaics 
(babyish, puppyish, as evocation, all, it seems to 
me,) for a note, a gleam of reflection of the life 
we live, of artistic or plastic intelligence of it, 
something one can say yes or no to, as discrimi- 
nation, perception, observation, rendering that 
I am really not a judge of the particular com- 
modity at all : I am out of patience with it and 
have it par-dessus les oreilles. What I don't 



354 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

doubt of is the agility with which Hewlett does 
it. But oh Italy the Italy of Italy ! Basta ! 

May the glowering year clear its dark face for 
all of us before it has done with us ! ... Vale. 
Good-night. 

Yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Mrs. Everard Cotes. 

This refers to Mrs. Cotes's novel, His Honor and a Lady, 
and to a suggestion that its manner in some way resembled 
his own. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
January 26th, 1900. 

Dear Mrs. Cotes, 

I grovel in the dust so ashamed am I to 
have made no response to your so generous 
bounty and to have left you unthanked and 
unhonoured. And all the while I was (at once) 
so admiring your consummately clever book, and 
so blushing to the heels and groaning to the 
skies over the daily paralysis of my daily inten- 
tion to make you some at least (if not adequate) 
commonly courteous and approximately intel- 
ligible sign. And I have absolutely no valid, no 
sound, excuse to make but that I am like that ! 
I mean I am an abandonedly bad writer of letters 
and acknowledger of kindnesses. I throw myself 
simply on my confirmed (in old age) hatred of 
the unremunerated pen from which one would 
think I have a remunerated one ! 

Your book is extraordinarily keen and delicate 
and able. How can I tell if it's " like me " ? 
I don't know what " me " is like. I can't see 
my own tricks and arts, my own effect, from 
outside at all. I can only say that if it is like 
me, then I'm much more of a gros monsieur than 
I ever dreamed. We are neither of us dying of 



AET. 56 TO MRS. EVERARD COTES 355 

simplicity or common addition ; that's all I can 
make out ; and we are both very intelligent and 
observant and conscious that a work of art must 
make some small effort to be one ; must sacrifice 
somehow and somewhere to the exquisite, or be 
an asininity altogether. So we open the door to 
the Devil himself who is nothing but the sense 
of beauty, of mystery, of relations, of appear- 
ances, ot abysses, of the whole and of EXPRES- 
SION ! That's all he is ; and if he is our common 
parent I'm delighted to welcome you as a sister 
and to be your brother. One or two things my 
acute critical intelligence murmured to me as I 
read. I think your drama lacks, a little, line 
bony structure and palpable, as it were, tense 
cord on which to string the pearls of detail. 
It's the frequent fault of women's work and 
/ like a rope (the rope of the direction and march 
of the subject, the action) pulled, like a taut cable 
between a steamer and a tug, from beginning to 
end. It lapses and lapses along a trifle too 
liquidly and is too much conceived (I think) in 
dialogue I mean considering that it isn't con- 
ceived like a play. Another reflection the 
Western idiot makes is that he is a little tor- 
mented by the modern mixture (maddening 
medley of our cosmopolite age) of your India 
(vast, pre-conceived and absently-present,) and 
your subject not of Indian essence. The two 
things elements don't somehow illustrate each 
other, and are juxtaposed only by the terrible 
globe-shrinkage. But that's not your fault it's 
mine that I suffer from it. Go on and go on 
you are full of talent ; of the sense of life and the 
instinct of presentation ; of wit and perception 
and resource. Voila. 

It would be much more to the point to talk of 
these things with you, and some day, again, this 
must indeed be. But just now I am talking 



356 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

with few wintering, for many good reasons, in 
the excessive tranquillity of this tiny, inarticulate 
country town, in which I have a house really 
adapted to but the balmier half of the year. 
And there is nothing cheerful to talk of. South 
Africa darkens all our sky here, and I gloom and 
brood and have craven questions of " Finis 
Britanniae ? ?: ' in solitude. Your Indian vision 
at least keeps that abjectness away from you. 
But good-night. It's past midnight ; my little 
heavy-headed and heavy-hearted city sleeps ; the 
stillness ministers to fresh flights of the morbid 
fancy ; and I am yours, dear Mrs. Cotes, most 
constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To A. F. de Navarro. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

April 1st, 1900. 

My dear brave Don Tony and dear beautiful 
Dona Mary : (not that Tony isn't beautiful too 
or that Mary isn't brave !) You are awfully 
exclusive ; you won't be written to if you can 
help it or if I can ; but wonderful as you 
individually and conjoinedly are, you must still 
taste of the common cup you must recognise 
that, after all, you are, humanly, exposed ! 
Well, this is all, at the worst, you are exposed 
to : to my only scribbling at you, a little, for the 
pride of the thought of you. A fellow has feel- 
ings, hang it and the feelings will overflow. 
I am a very sentient and affectionate, albeit 
out-of-the-way and out-of-the-fashion person. I 
like to add with my own clumsy fingers a small 
knot to the silken cord that, for the starved 
romance of my life, does, by God's blessing, 
happen to unite me to two or three of my really 
decorative contemporaries. Besides, if you will 



A ET . 66 TO A. F. DE NAVARRO 357 

write such enchanting letters ! The communi- 
cation that (a few days ago in London) reached 
[me] from each of you, makes up for many grey 
things. Many things are grey, in a blafard 
English March and moist English club-chambers : 
(tell me not of the pains of Provence !) Without 
our gifted Jon. close at hand I should have parted 
forever with my sense of colour. However, I 
don't want simply to thank you for all the 
present, the past and the future I want also to 
say, right distinctly, that if you can conveniently 
send me a copy of L'Aiglon you'll stick the 
biggest feather yet in your cap of grace. I 
believe the book isn't yet out so I shall be as 
patient as I am attached. You couldn't do a 
more charming thing and nobody but you could 
do as charming a one. I hold you both fast and 
am your fond and faithful old friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 

P.S. I send this to C.F. as you may have 
shifted. How delightful your picture of the little 
time-beating boy ! What a family ! 

To W. D. Howells. 

The Sense of the Past, the first chapters of which were 
written at this time, was presently laid aside and not con- 
tinued until the autumn of 1914. The other projected 
"tale of terror," referred to in this letter, was never carried 
out ; there seems to be no indication of its subject. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
29th June, 1900. 
My dear Howells, 

I can't emulate your wonderful little cur- 
sive type on your delicate little sheets the com- 
bination of which seems to suggest that you 
dictate, at so much an hour, to an Annisquam 
fairy ; but I will do what I can and make out 



858 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1000 

to be intelligible to you even, over the joy it is, 
ever and always, to hear from you. You say 
that had you not been writing me the particular 
thing you were, you fear you wouldn't have been 
writing at all ; but it is a compliment I can 
better. I really believe that if I weren't writing 
you this, on my side, I should be writing you 
something else. For I've been, of late, reading 
you again as continuously as possible the worst 
I mean by which is as continuously as the book- 
sellers consent : and the result of " Ragged 
Lady," the " Silver Journey," the " Pursuit of 
the Piano " and two or three other things (none 
wrested from your inexorable hand, but paid for 
from scant earnings) has been, ever so many 
times over, an impulse of reaction, of an in- 
tensely cordial sort, directly at you all, alas, 
spending itself, for sad and sore want of you, in 
the heavy air of this alien clime and the solitude, 
here, of my unlettered life. I wrote to you to 
Kittery Point I think it was something like a 
year ago, and my chief occupation since then has 
been listening for the postman's knock. But let 
me quickly add that I understand overwhelmingly 
well what you say of the impossibility for you, 
at this time of day, of letters. God knows they 
are impossible the great fatal, incurable, un- 
pumpable leak of one's poor sinking bark. Non 
ragioniam di lor I understand all about it ; and it 
only adds to the pleasure with which, even on its 
personal side, I greet your present communication. 
This communication, let me, without a shred 
of coyness, instantly declare, much interests and 
engages me to the degree even that I think I 
find myself prepared to post you on the spot a 
round, or a square, Rather ! I won't go through 
any simpering as to the goodness of your " having 
thought of me " nor even through any frank 
gaping (though there might be, for my admiration 



AET. 57 TO W. D. HOWELLS 359 

and awe, plenty of that !) over the wonder of 
your multiform activity and dauntlessly uni- 
versal life. Basta that I will write anything in 
life that anyone asks me in decency and a 
fortiori that you so gracefully ask. I can only 
feel it to be enough for me that you have a hand 
in the affair, that you are giving a book yourself 
and engaging yourself otherwise, and that I am 
in short in your company. What I understand 
is that my little novel shall be of fifty thousand 
(50,000) words, neither more, I take it, nor less ; 
and that I shall receive the sum mentioned in 
the prospectus " down," in advance of royalties, 
on such delivery. (I shall probably in point of 
fact, in my financial humility, prefer, when the 
time comes, to avail myself of the alternative 
right mentioned in the prospectus that of taking, 
instead of a royalty, for the two years " lease," 
the larger sum formed by the so-much-a-word 
aggregation. But that I shall be clear about 
when the work is done ; I only glance at this 
now as probable.) It so happens that I can get 
at the book, I think, almost immediately and do 
it within the next three or four months. You 
will therefore, unless you hear from me a short 
time hence to the contrary, probably receive it 
well before December. As for the absoluteness 
of the " order," I am willing to take it as, practi- 
cally, sufficiently absolute. If you shouldn't like 
it, there is something else, definite enough, that 
I can do with it. What, however, concerns me 
more than anything else is to take care that you 
shall like it. I tell myself that I am not afraid ! 
I brood with mingled elation and depression 
on your ingenious, your really inspired, suggestion 
that I shall give you a ghost, and that my ghost 
shall be " international." I say inspired because, 
singularly enough, I set to work some months ago 
at an international ghost, and on just this scale, 



860 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 



1900 



50,000 words ; entertaining for a little the highest 
hopes of him. He was to have been wonderful 
and beautiful ; he was to have been called (per- 
haps too metaphysically) " The Sense of the 
Past " ; and he was to have been supplied to a 

certain Mr who was then approaching me 

had then approached me. . . . The outstretched 
arm, however, alas, was drawn in again, or lopped 
off, or otherwise paralysed and negatived, and 
I was left with my little project intrinsically, 
I hasten to add, and most damnably difficult 
on my hands. ... It is very possible, however, 
it is indeed most probable, that I should have 
broken down in the attempt to do him this 
particular thing, and this particular thing (divine, 
sublime, if I could do it) is not, I think, what I 
shall now attempt to nurse myself into a fallacious 
faith that I shall be able to pull off for Howells 
and Clarke. The damnable difficulty is the rea- 
son ; I have rarely been beaten by a subject, 
but I felt myself, after upwards of a month's 
work, destined to be beaten by that one. This 
will sufficiently hint to you how awfully good it 
is. But it would take too long for me to tell 
you here, more vividly, just how and why ; it 
would, as well, to tell you, still more subtly and 
irresistibly, why it's difficult. There it lies, and 
probably will always lie. 

I'm not even sure that the international ghost 
is what will most bear being worried out though, 
again, in another particular, the circumstances, 
combining with your coincident thought, seemed 

pointed by the finger of providence. What 

wanted was two Tales both tales of " terror " 
and making another duplex book like the " Two 
Magics." Accordingly I had had (dreadful deed !) 
to puzzle out more or less a second, a different, 
piece of impudence of the same general type. 
But I had only, when the project collapsed, 



AET. 57 TO W. D. HOWELLS 361 

caught hold of the tip of the tail of this other 
monster whom I now mention because his tail 
seemed to show him as necessarily still more 
interesting than No. 1. If I can at all recapture 
him, or anything like him, I will do my best to 
sit down to him and " mount " him with due 
neatness. In short, I will do what I can. If 
I can't be terrible, I shall nevertheless still try 
to be international. The difficulties are that it's 
difficult to be terrible save in the short piece and 
international save in the long. But trust me. 
I add little more. This by itself will begin by 
alarming you as a precipitate instalment of my 
responsive fury. I rejoice to think of you as 
basking on your Indian shore. This shore is as 
little Indian as possible, and we have hitherto 
for the season had to combat every form of 
inclemency. To-day, however, is so charming 
that, frankly, I wish you were all planted in a 
row in the little old garden into which I look as 
I write to you. Old as it is (a couple of hundred 
years) it wouldn't be too old even for Mildred. 
But these thoughts undermine. The " country 
scenes " in your books make me homesick for 
New England smells and even sounds. Annis- 
quam, for instance, is a smell as well as a sound. 
May it continue sweet to you ! Charles Norton 
and Sally were with me lately for a day or two, 
and you were one of the first persons mentioned 
between us. You were the person mentioned 
most tenderly. It was strange and pleasant and 
sad, and all sorts of other things, to see Charles 
again after so many years. I found him utterly 
unchanged and remarkably young. But I found 
myself, with him, Methusalesque and alien ! I 
shall write you again when my subject condenses. 
I embrace you all and am yours, my dear Howells, 
always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



362 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 



To W. D. Howells. 

The book already begun, and now " the greatest obses- 
sion of all," is evidently The Ambassadors. 

Dictated. 

Read P.S. (Aug. 14>th) first ! 

Lamb House, Rye, 

August 9, 1900. 
My dear Howells, 

I duly received and much pondered your 
second letter, charming and vivid, from Annis- 
quam ; the one, I mean, in reply to mine dis- 
patched immediately on the receipt of your first. 
If I haven't since its arrival written to you, this 
is because, precisely, I needed to work out my 
question somewhat further first. My impulse 
was immediately to say that I wanted to do my 
little stuff at any rate, and was willing therefore 
to take any attendant risk, however measured, 
as the little stuff would be, at the worst, a thing 
I should see my way to dispose of in another 
manner. But the problem of the little stuff 
itself intrinsically worried me to the extent, 
I mean, of my not feeling thoroughly sure I 
might make of it what I wanted and above all 
what your conditions of space required. The 
thing was therefore to try and satisfy myself 
practically by threshing out my subject to as 
near an approach to certainty as possible. This 
I have been doing with much intensity but 
with the result, I am sorry to say, of being still 
in the air. Let the present accordingly pass for 
a provisional communication not to leave your 
last encompassed with too much silence. Lend- 
ing myself as much as possible to your suggestion 
of a little " tale of terror " that should be also 
international, I took straight up again the idea 
I spoke to you of having already/ some months 



AET. 57 TO W. D. HOWELLS 363 

ago, tackled and, for various reasons, laid aside. 
I have been attacking it again with intensity and 
on the basis of a simplification that would make 
it easier, and have done for it, thus, 110 pages 
of type. The upshot of this, alas, however, is 
that though this second start is, if I or if you 
like, magnificent, it seriously confronts me 
with the element of length ; showing me, I fear, 
but too vividly, that, do what I will for com- 
pression, I shall not be able to squeeze my subject 
into 50,000 words. It will make, even if it 
doesn't, for difficulty, still beat me, 70,000 or 
80,000 dreadful to say ; and that faces me as 
an excessive addition to the ingredient of " risk " 
we speak of. On the other hand I am not sure 
that I can hope to substitute for this particular 
affair another affair of " terror " which will be 
expressible in the 50,000 ; and that for an 
especial reason. This reason is that, above all 
when one has done the thing, already, as I have, 
rather repeatedly, it is not easy to concoct a 
" ghost " of any freshness. The want of ease is 
extremely marked, moreover, if the thing is to 
be done on a certain scale of length. One might 
still toss off a spook or two more if it were a 
question only of the " short-story " dimension ; 
but prolongation and extension constitute a 
strain which the merely apparitional discounted, 
also, as by my past dealings with it doesn't 
do enough to mitigate. The beauty of this 
notion of "The Sense of the Past," of which I 
have again, as I tell you, been astride, is pre- 
cisely that it involves without the stale effect 
of the mere bloated bugaboo, the presentation, 
for folk both in and out of the book, of such a 
sense of gruesome malaise as can only success 
being assumed make the fortune, in the " liter- 
ary world," of every one concerned. I haven't, 
in it, really (that is save in one very partial 



364 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

preliminary and expository connection,) to make 
anything, or anybody, " appear " to anyone : 
what the case involves is, awfully interestingly 
and thrillingly, that the " central figure," the 
subject of the experience, has the terror of a 
particular ground for feeling and fearing that 
he himself is, or may be, may at any moment 
become, a producer, an object, of this (for you 
and me) state of panic on the part of others. 
He lives in an air of malaise as to the malaise 
he may, woefully, more or less fatally, find 
himself creating and that, roughly speaking, 
is the essence of what I have seen. It is less 
gross, much less banal and exploded, than 
the dear old familiar bugaboo ; produces, I 
think, for the reader, an almost equal funk 
or at any rate an equal suspense and unrest ; 
and carries with it, as I have " fixed " it, a more 
truly curious and interesting drama especially 
a more human one. But, as I say, there are the 
necessities of space, as to which I have a dread 
of deluding myself only to find that by trying 
to blink them I shall be grossly " sold," or by 
giving way to them shall positively spoil my form 
for your purpose. The hitch is that the thing 
involves a devil of a sort of prologue or prelim- 
inary action interesting itself and indispensable 
for lucidity which impinges too considerably 
(for brevity) on the core of the subject. My 
one chance is yet, I admit, to try to attack 
the same (the subject) from still another quarter, 
at still another angle, that I make out as a possible 
one and which may keep it squeezable and 
short. If this experiment fails, I fear I shall 
have to " chuck " the supernatural and the high 
fantastic. I have just finished, as it happens, a 
fine flight (of eighty thousand words) into the 
high fantastic, which has rather depleted me, 
or at any rate affected me as discharging my 



AET. 57 TO W. D. HOWELLS 365 

obligations in that quarter. But I believe I 
mentioned to you in my last " The Sacred 
Fount " this has been " sold " to Methuen 
here, and by this time, probably, to somebody 
else in the U.S. but, alas, not to be serialized 
(as to which indeed it is inapt) as to the title 
of which kindly preserve silence. The vraie 
verite, the fundamental truth lurking behind 
all the rest, is furthermore, no doubt, that, 
preoccupied with half a dozen things of the 
altogether human order now fermenting in my 
brain, I don't care for " terror " (terror, that is, 
without " pity ") so much as I otherwise might. 
This would seem to make it simple for me to say 
to you : " Hang it, if I can't pull off my Monster 
on any terms, I'll just do for you a neat little 
human and not the less international fifty- 
thousander consummately addressed to your 
more cheerful department ; do for you, in other 
words, an admirable short novel of manners, 
thrilling too in its degree, but definitely ignoring 
the bugaboo." Well, this I don't positively 
despair of still sufficiently overtaking myself 
to be able to think of. That card one has always, 
thank God, up one's sleeve, and the production of 
it is only a question of a little shake of the arm. 
At the same time, here, to be frank and above 
all, you will say, in this communication, to be 
interminable that alternative is just a trifle 
compromised by the fact that I've two or three 
things begun ever so beautifully in such a key 
(and only awaiting the rush of the avid bidder !) 
each affecting me with its particular obsession, 
and one, the most started, affecting me with 
the greatest obsession, for the time (till I can 
do it, work it off, get it out of the way and fall 
with still-accumulated intensity upon the others,) 
of all. But alas, if I don't say, bang off, that 
this is then the thing I will risk for you, it is 



366 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

because " this," like its companions, isn't, any way 
I can fix it, workable as a fifty-thousander. 
The scheme to which I am now alluding is lovely 
human, dramatic, international, exquisitely 
" pure," exquisitely everything ; only absolutely 
condemned, from the germ up, to be workable in 
not less than 100,000 words. If 100,000 were what 
you had asked me for, I would fall back upon it 
(" terror " failing) like a flash ; and even send 
you, without delay, a detailed Scenario of it that 
I drew up a year ago ; beginning then a year 
ago to do the thing immediately afterwards ; 
and then again pausing for reasons extraneous 
and economic. ... It really constitutes, at any 
rate, the work I intimately want actually to be 
getting on with ; and if you are not overdone 
with the profusion of my confidence I dare 
say I best put my case by declaring that, if you 
don't in another month or tw*o hear from me 
either as a Terrorist or as a Cheerful Interna- 
tionalist, it will be that intrinsic difficulties 
will in each case have mastered me ; the difficulty 
in the one having been to keep my Terror down 
by any ingenuity to the 50,000 ; and the diffi- 
culty in the other form of Cheer than the above- 
mentioned obsessive hundred-thousander. I only 
wish you wanted him. But I have now in all 
probability a decent outlet for him. 

Forgive my pouring into your lap this torrent 
of mingled uncertainties and superfluities. The 
latter indeed they are properly not, if only as 
showing you how our question does occupy me. 
I shall write you again however vividly I see 
you wince at the prospect of it. I have it 
at heart not to fail to let you know how my 
alternatives settle themselves. Please believe 
meanwhile in my very hearty thanks for your 
intimation of what you might perhaps, your own 
quandary straightening out, see your way to do 



AST. 57 TO W. D. HO WELLS 367 

for me. It is a kind of intimation that I find, I 
confess, even at the worst, dazzling. All this, 
however, trips up my response to your charming 
picture of your whereabouts and present con- 
ditions still discernible, in spite of the chill of 
years and absence, to my eye, and eke to my 
ear, of memory. We have had here a torrid, 
but not a wholly horrid, July ; but are making 
it up with a brave August, so far as we have 
got, of fires and floods and storms and overcoats. 
Through everything, none the less, my purpose 
holds my genius, I may even say, absolutely 
thrives and I am unbrokenly yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 

14th August. 

P.S. The hand of Providence guided me, after 
finishing the preceding, to which the present is 
postscriptal, to keep it over a few days instead 
of posting it directly : so possible I thought it 
that I might have something more definite to 
add and I was a little nervous about the way 
I had left our question. Behold then I have 
then to add that I have just received your 
letter of August 4 which so simplifies our 
situation that this accompanying stuff becomes 
almost superfluous. But I have let it go for the 
sake of the interest, the almost top-heavy mass 
of response that it embodies. Let us put it 
then that all is for the moment for the best in 
this worst of possible worlds ; all the more 
that had I not just now been writing you exactly 
as I am, I should probably and thanks, precisely, 
to the lapse of days be stammering to you the 
ungraceful truth that, after I wrote you, my tale 
of terror did, as I was so more than half fearing, 
give way beneath me. It has, in short, broken 
down for the present. I am laying it away on 
the shelf for the sake of something that is 



368 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

in it, but that I am now too embarrassed and 
preoccupied to devote more time to pulling out. 
I really shouldn't wonder if it be not still, in 
time and place, to make the world sit up ; but 
the curtain is dropped for the present. All 
thanks for your full and prompt statement of 
how the scene has shifted for you. There is no 
harm done, and I don't regard the three weeks 
spent on my renewed wrestle as wasted I have, 
within three or four days, rebounded from them 
with such relief, vaulting into another saddle 
and counting, D.V., on a straighter run. I have 
two begun novels : which will give me plenty 
to do for the present they being of the type 
of the " serious " which I am too delighted to 
see you speak of as lifting again ... its down- 
trodden head. I mean, at any rate, I assure you, 
to lift mine I Your extremely, touchingly kind 
offer to find moments of your precious time for 
" handling " something I might send you is 
altogether too momentous for me to let me 
fail of feeling almost ashamed that I haven't 
something the ghost or t'other stuff in form, 
already, to enable me to respond to your 
generosity " as meant." But heaven only knows 
what may happen yet ! For the moment, I 
must peg away at what I have in hand biggish 
stuff, I fear, in bulk and possible unserialis- 
ability, to saddle you withal. But thanks, thanks 
thanks. Delighted to hear of one of your cold 
waves the newspapers here invidiously men- 
tioning none but your hot. We have them 
all, moreover, rechauffees, as soon as you have 
done with them ; and we are just sitting down 
to one now. I dictate you this in my shirt- 
sleeves and in a draught which fails of strength 
chilling none of the pulses of yours gratefully 
and affectionately, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AET. 57 TO W. E. NORRIS 369 

To W. E. Norris. 

Lamb House, Rye, 
September 26th, 1900. 
My dear Norris, 

Charming and " gracious " your letter, 
and welcome sign of your restoration in more 
senses than one. Though I see you, alas, nowa- 
days, at such intervals, I feel this extremely 
individual little island to be appreciably less 
its characteristic self when you are away from 
it, and sensibly more so, and breathing the 
breath of relief, when it gets you back and 
plumps you down with a fond " There ! v on 
your high hilltop, a beacon-like depository of 
traditions no one else so admirably embodies. 
Your invitation to come and share for a few days 
your paradise with you finds me, I am very 
sorry to say, in a hindered and helpless moment. 
I am obliged to recognise the stern fact that 
I can't leave home just now. I have had a 
complicated and quite overwhelmed summer 
agreeably, interestingly, anxiously and worriedly, 
even ; but inevitably and logically waves of 
family history, a real deluge, having rolled over 
my bowed head and left me, as to the question 
of work, production, time, ease and other matters, 
quite high and dry. I went on Saturday last 
to Dover to see my sister-in-law off to the Con- 
tinent and as she took a night-boat had to 
stop there over Sunday, at the too-familiar 
(and too other things) Lord Warden ; after 
which I came back to bury (yes, bury !) my 
precious, my admirable little Peter, whom I 
think you had met. (He passed away on Sunday 
at St. Leonard's, fondly attended by the local 
" canine specialist " after three days of dreadful 
little dysentery.) Thus is constituted the first 
moment of my being by myself for about four 

2A 



370 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

months. It may last none too long, and is, 
already, to be tempered by the palpable presence 
of Gosse from Saturday p.m. to Monday next. 
So, with arrears untold, in every direction, with 
preoccupations but just temporarily arranged, I 
feel that I absolutely must sit close for a good 
many weeks to come ; in fact till the New Year 
after which I depart. I don't quite know what 
becomes of me then, but I don't, distinctly, 
for a third year, hibernate here. My London 
rooms are as probably as sordidly let for 1901 
(though not to a certainty,) and it will (my 
wretched fate not fat fate) depend more or 
less upon that. My brother, ill, but thank God, 
better, wants me to come to Egypt with him 
and his wife for 12 weeks his health demanding 
it, but he only going if I will accompany him. 
So the pistol is at my head. Will it bring me 
down ? I've a positive terror of it. The alter- 
natives are Rome (of which I've a still greater 
terror than of Egypt, for it's an equal com- 
plication and less reward,) or De Vere Gardens, 
or a more squalid perch in town if De V.G. are 
closed to me. The latter, the last-named, doom 
is what I really want. If I should, clingingly, 
clutchingly, stick to these shores, I might then, 
were it agreeable to you, be able to put in three 
days of Underbank, which I've never seen in 
its tragic winter mood. But these things are 
in the lap of the gods. 

Later, same night. 

I broke off this a.m. to go over to Lydd, where 
I've had, all summer, a friend in camp, and 
promised to pay him a visit. My amanuensis, 
who has been taking at the Paris exhibition a 
week of joy refused to his employer (and indeed 
wholly undesired by him did your " slow " 
return from Marienbad partly consist of the 



A*T. 57 TO W. E. NORRIS 371 

same ?) comes back to-morrow, and my friend's 
battalion departs on Saturday so it was my 
one chance to redeem my perpetually falsified 
vow. I went by train and bicycled back in 
the teeth of a gale now fully developed here and 
howling in my old chimneys ; which sounds 
the knell of this (to do it justice) incomparable 
September. I don't quite know what Drury 
Lane military drama effects I had counted on 
but I trundled home with the depressed sense 
of something that hadn't wholly come off (in 
the way of a romantic appeal,) a dusty, scrubby 
plain in which dirty, baby soldiers pigged about 
with nothing particular to do. However, I've 
performed my promise, and I sit down to a pile 
of correspondence that, for many days past, 
has refused visibly to shrink. . . . You excite, 
with your Scandinavian and Austrian holidays 
and junketings, the envious amaze of poor 
motionless and shillingless me. I've been think- 
ing of appealing to your " Suffrages," but I 
more and more feel that I could never afford 
you. My watering place is Hastings, and my 
round tour is rounded by the afternoon. But 
good-night ; my servant has just deposited by 
my side the glass of boiling water which con- 
stitutes his nightly admonition that it's " high 
time " I went to bed and constitutes my own 
inexpensive emulation of Marienbad and Copen- 
hagen where I am sure Gosse drinks the most 
exotic things. Please say to Miss Effie that I 
doubly regret having to be deaf to any kind 
urgency of hers, and that I hope she will find 
means to include me in some prayer for the 
conversion of the benighted. But my hot water 
is cooling, and it takes me so long to let it gouge 
its inward course that I will be first yours, my 
dear Norris, always though I'm afraid you will 
say always impracticably- HENRy 



372 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1000 



To A. F. de Navarro. 

" The Place of the Thirty Peacocks " was H. J.'s name 
for the old moated house of Groombridge Place, near 
Tunbridge Wells, which he had visited some years before 
with Mr. de Navarro. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
November 13, 1900. 

Dear and exquisite Tony, 

I would deal death, or a peu pres, to the 
man who should have said that I would have 
delayed these too many days to acknowledge 
your beautiful little letter from or about 
the Place of the Thirty Peacocks. Yet he, 
low wretch, would have been, after all, in the 
secrets of Fate ; he would have foreseen me a 
good deal accable with arrears, interruptions, a 
deluge of proofsheets, a complexity of duties 
and distractions ; he would have heard in advance 
my ineffectual groans and even have pitied my 
baffled efforts. These things have eventuated 
to-night in the irresistible desire to chat with you 
by the fire before turning in. The fire burns 
low, and the clock marks midnight : everything 
but the quantity of combustion reminds me of 
those small nocturnal hours, two years ago, 
when I was communing with you thus and the 
fire didn't burn low. You saved my life then, 
and my house, and all that was mine ; and for 
aught I know you are now saving us all again 
from some other deadly element. To-night it's 
water or the absence of it ; I don't quite under- 
stand which. Something has happened to my 
water supply, through a pulling-up of the street, 
though it doesn't yet quite appear whether I'm 
to perish by thirst or by submersion. Here I 
sit as usual, at any rate, holding on to you 
also as usual while the clock ticks in the stillness. 



A ET . 57 TO A. F. DE NAVARRO 373 

I can't tell you how happily inspired I feel it 
to have been of you to remember our erstwhile 
pilgrimage to the Maeterlinck house and moat 
and peacocks and ladies for that's how as a 
moated Maeterlinck matter the whole impression 
of our old visit, yours and mine and Miss ReubelPs, 
comes back to me. I rejoice that they are still 
en place, and how glad they must have been to 
see you ! Willingly would I too taste again the 
sweet old impression which your letter charm- 
ingly expresses. But I seem to travel, to pere- 
grinate, less and less and I am reduced to 
living on my past accumulations. I wish they 
were larger. But I make the most of them. 
They include very closely you and Mrs. You. 
To them I do seem reduced with you. What 
with our so far separated country settlements 
and present absence of a London common centre 
(save the Bond St. corner of which J. S. is the 
pivot !) memories and sighs, echoes and ghosts 
are our terms of intercourse. You oughtn't, 
you know, to have driven in stakes in your 
merciless Midland. This southern shore, twink- 
ling and twittering, with a semi-foreign light, 
a kind of familiar wink in the air, would have 
favoured your health, your spirits, and heaven 
knows your being here would have favoured 
mine. I breakfast all these weeks, mostly, with 
my window open to the garden and a flood of 
sunshine pouring in. It's really meridional. It 
would Rye would remind you of Granada- 
more or less. But I hope, after Xmas, to be 
in town for three or four months. You will 
surely pass and repass there. When I, at inter- 
vals, go up, on some practical urgency, for three 
or four hours, I always see the abysmal Jon. 
He usually has some news of you to give ; and 
when he hasn't it's not for want of on my 
part solemn invocation. However, I must now 



374 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

solemnly invoke slumber. Good-night good- 
morning. I bless your house, its glorious mistress 
and its innocent heir. 

Yours always and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To W. E. Norris. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
December 23rd, 1900. 
My dear Norris, 

I greatly desire that this shall not fail 
to convey you my sentiments on this solemn 
Xmas morn ; so I sit here planning and plotting, 
and making well-meant pattes de mouche, to that 
genial end. A white sea-fog closes us in (in 
which I've walked healthily, with my young 
niece, out to the links with the sense of being 
less of a golfist than ever ;) the clock ticks and 
the fire crackles during the period between tea 
and dinner ; the young niece aforesaid (my 
only companion this season of mirth, with her 
parents abroad and a scant snatch of school 
holidays to spend with me) sits near me immersed 
in Redgauntlet ; so the moment seems to lend 
itself to my letting off this signal in such a 
manner as may, even in these troublous times 
(when my nerves are all gone and I feel as if 
anything shall easily happen,) catch your indul- 
gent eye. I feel as if I hadn't caught your eye, 
for all its indulgence, for a long and weary time, 
and I daresay you won't gainsay my confession. 
May the red glow of the Yuletide log diffuse 
itself at Underbank (with plenty of fenders 
and fireguards and raking out at night,) in a 
good old jovial manner. I think of you all on 
the Lincombes, &c, in these months, as a 
very high-feeding, champagne-quaffing, orchid- 



AET. 57 TO W. E. NORRIS 375 

arranging society ; and my gaze wanders a little 
wistfully toward you away from my plain 
broth and barley-water. I in fact, some three 
weeks ago, fled from that Spartan diet up to 
town, hoping to be in the mood to remain there 
till Easter, and the experience is still going on, 
with this week here inserted as a picturesque 
parenthesis. I asked my young niece in the 
glow of last August not to fail to spend her 
Xmas with me, as I then expected to be, Pro- 
methean-like, on my rock ; and I've returned 
to my rock not to leave her in the lurch. And 
I find a niece does temper solitude. . . . 

London, at all events, seems to me, after long 
expatriation, rather thrilling all the more that 
I have the thrill, the quite anxious throb, of a 
new little habitation which makes, alas, the 
third that I am actually master of ! I've taken 
(with 34 De Vere Gardens still on my hands, 
but blessedly let for another year to come, and 
then to be wriggled out of with heaven's help) 
a permanent room at a club (Reform,) which 
seems to solve the problem of town on easy 
terms. They are let by the year only, and one 
waits one's turn long (for years ;) but when 
mine the other day came round I went it blind 
instead of letting it pass. One has to furnish 
and do all one's self but the results, and con- 
ditions, generally, repay. My cell is spacious, 
southern, looking over Carlton Gardens : and 
tranquil, utterly, and singularly well-serviced ; 
and I find I can work there there being ample 
margin for a type-writer and its priest, or even 
priestess. It all hung by that but I think I 
am not deceived ; so I bear up. And the next 
time you come to perch at a neighbouring 
establishment, I shall sweep down on you from 
my eyrie. It's astonishing how remote, cumbrous 
and expensive it makes 34 De Vere Gardens 



376 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

seem. Worse luck that that millstone still dangles 
gracefully from my neck ! . . . . 

I've now dined, and re-established my niece 
with the second volume of Redgauntlet besides 
plying her, at dessert, with delicacies brought 
down, a son intention, from Fortnum & Mason ; 
and thus with a good conscience I prepare to 
close this and to sally forth into the sea-fog to 
post it with my own hand if it's to reach you 
at any congruous moment. I yesterday dis- 
missed a servant at an hour's notice the house 
of the Lamb scarce knew itself and felt like that 
of the Wolf so that, with reduced resources, 
I make myself generally useful. Besides, at 
little, huddled, neighbourly Rye, even a white 
December sea-fog is a cosy and convenient 
thing. 

So good night and all blessings on your tropic 
home. May your table groan with the memorials 
of friendship, and may Miss Effie's midnight 
masses not make her late for breakfast and her 
share of them which is a little even in these 
poor words from yours, my dear Norris, always, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To A. F. de Navarro. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

December 29th, 1900. 

Dear and splendid Tony ! 

They are all admirable and exquisite 
for I seem to have received so much from you 
that " all " is the only indication comprehensive 
enough. I came down from ten days in town 
the other day to find UAiglon, and within three 
or four the beautiful little pocket-diary has 
added itself to that obligation. Dear and splen- 
did Tony, let me not even (scarcely) speak of 
my obligations. That way lies prostration, the 



A ET . 57 TO A. F. DE NAVARRO 377 

sense of deep unworthyness (wrongly spelled 
to show how unworthi I am :) the memory and 
vision of a little library of Bond St. booklets 
that collectors (toward the end of 1901) will 
cut each others' throats for : and what do I 
know besides? I am more touched than I can 
say, in short, by your fidelity in every particular. 
L'Aiglon, now that we at last have the glittering 
text, has been a joy to me, of the finest kind, 
here by the Xmas fireside. I haven't seen the 
thing done and I don't hugely want to : I 
so represent it to myself as I go. The talent, 
the effect, the art, the mastery, the brilliancy, 
are all prodigious. The man really has talent 
like an attack of smallpox I mean it rages 
with as purple an intensity, and might almost 
(one vainly feels as one reads) be contagious. 
You have given me, by your admirable con- 
sideration, an exquisite pleasure. I wish we 
could talk of these things : but we are like the 
buckets in the well. . . . Make me a preliminary 
sign the first time you pass. For the present 
goodnight. My Xmas letters are still mainly 
unwritten and they are many and much. I greet 
you and Mrs. Tony very constantly : I wish you 
a big slice of the new century : and I am yours 
ever so gratefully, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To the Viscountess Wolseley. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Dec. 29, 1900. 
Dearest Lady Wolseley, 

This is a very faint and meagre little 
word, addressed to you late of a terrifically 
windy winter's night by an old friend who doesn't 
happen* to be in very good physical case (only 

* This to attenuate his feebleness of hand ! 



378 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1900 

for the moment, thank goodness, probably !) 
and yet who doesn't want the New Year to edge 
an hour nearer before he has made you Both- 
made you all Three a sign of affectionate 
remembrance amounting to tenderness pure and 
simple. I wish there were a benediction I could 
call down on your house and your associated 
life in sufficiently immediate and visible form : 
you would then see it flutter into your midst 
and perch upon your table even while you read 
these lines. I have thought of you constantly 
these past weeks, and have only not written 
to you from the fear of appearing to assume 
that your retirement has been to you woeful 
or in any degree heart-breaking. I couldn't 
congratulate you positively, on the event, and 
yet I hated to condole, in the case of people so 
gallant and distinguished. So I have been hover- 
ing about you in thought like an anxious mother 
armed, in the evening air, with a shawl or extra 
wrap, for a pair of belated but high-spirited 
children liable to feel a chill, but not quite 
venturing to approach the young people and 
clap the article on their shoulders. I have 
remained in short with my warm shawl on my 
hands, but if I were near you I should clap it 
straight on your shoulders at the first symptom 
of a shiver, and wrap it close round and tuck 
it thoroughly in. Forgive this feeble image 
of the confirmed devotion I hold at your service. 
To see you will be a joy and a relief the next 
time I go up to town : I mean if it so befalls 
that you are then in residence at the Palace. I 
do go up on the 31st Monday next to stay 
till Easter : where my address is 105 Pall Mall, 
S.W., and if you should be at Hampton Court 
the least sign from you would bring me begging 
for a cup of tea. I hope, meanwhile, with all 
my heart, that these weeks spent in looking, 



AET. 57 TO THE VISCOUNTESS WOLSELEY 379 

after so many years, Comparative Leisure in 
the face, have had somewhat the effect of mitigat- 
ing the austerity of that countenance. There 
are opportunities always lurking in it the oppor- 
tunity, heaven-sent, in Lord Wolseley's case 
as I venture to think of it of sitting down again 
to the engaging Marlborough. But here I am 
talking as if you wouldn't know what to do ! 
Whatever you do, or don't, please believe, both 
of you, in the great personal affection that 
prompts this and that calls toward you, to the 
threshold of the New Year, every pleasant 
possibility and all ease and honour and, so far 
as you will consent to it, rest. 

Yours, dear Lady Wolseley, always and ever, 
and more than ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

The news had just arrived of the death of F. W. H. 
Myers at Rome, where William James was spending the 
winter. 

Reform Club, Pall Mall, S.W. 

Jan. 24, 1901. 
My dear William, 

A laggard in response you and Alice 
will indeed feel that I have become. I've had 
for three or four days your so interesting and 
relieving letter dictated to Alice at the hour 
of poor Myers's death, and though it greatly 
eased me off (as to my fears that the whole thing 
would have worn you out,) yet till this moment 
my hand has been stayed. I wrote you very 
briefly, moreover, as soon as the papers here 
gave the news. Blessed seems it to have been 
that everything round about Myers was so sane 
and comfortable ; the reasonableness and serenity 
of his wife and children etc., not to speak of 



380 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1001 

his own high philosophy, which it must have 
been fine to see in operation. But I hope the 
sequel hasn't been prolonged, and have been 
supposing that, by the necessary quick departure 
of his " party," you will have been left inde- 
pendent again and not too exhausted. We here, 
on our side, have been gathering close round 
the poor old dying and dead Queen, and are 
plunged in universal mourning tokens which 
accounts for my black- edged paper. It has 
really been, the event, most moving, interesting 
and picturesque. I have felt more moved, much, 
than I should have expected (such is community 
of sentiment,) and one has realized all sorts of 
things about the brave old woman's beneficent 
duration and holding-together virtue. The thing 
has been journalistically overdone, of course 
greatly ; but the people have appeared to ad- 
vantage serious and sincere and decent really 
caring. Meanwhile the drama of the accession, 
new reign, &c., has its lively spectacular interest 
even with the P. of W. for hero. I dined last 
night in company with some Privy Councillors 
who had met him ceremonially, in the a.m., and 
they said (John Morley in particular said) that 
he made a very good impression. Speriamo ! 

I find London answering very well, but with 
so much more crowdedness on one's hours arid 
minutes than in the country that I shall be 
glad indeed when the end comes. Meanwhile, how- 
ever, work proceeds. . . . The war has doubled the 
income tax here ; it is hideous. 
Ever tenderly your 

HENRY. 



AET. 58 TO MISS MUIR MACKENZIE 381 



To Miss Muir Mackenzie. 

Miss Muir Mackenzie, during a recent visit to Rye, had 
been nominated " Hereditary Grand Governess " of the 
garden of Lamb House, and is addressed accordingly. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

June 15th, 1901. 

Dear Grand Governess, 

You are grand indeed, and no mistake, 
and we are bathed in gratitude for what you 
have done for us, and, in general, for all your 
comfort, support and illumination. We cling 
to you ; we will walk but by your wisdom and 
live in your light ; we cherish and inscribe on our 
precious records every word that drops from 
you, and we have begun by taking up your 
delightful tobacco-leaves with pious and reverent 
hands and consigning them to the lap of earth 
(in the big vague blank unimaginative border 
with the lupines, etc.) exactly in the manner 
you prescribe ; where they have already done 
wonders toward peopling its desolation. It is 
really most kind and beneficent of you to have 
taken this charming trouble for us. We acted, 
further, instantaneously on your hint in respect 
to the poor formal fuchsias sitting up in their 
hot stuffy drawing-room with never so much 
as a curtain to draw over their windows. We 
haled them forth on the spot, everyone, and we 
clapped them (in thoughtful clusters) straight 
into the same capacious refuge or omnium 
gatherum. Then, while the fury and the frenzy 
were upon us, we did the same by the senseless 
stores of geranium (my poor little 22/-a-week- 
gardener's idee fixe !) we enriched the boundless 
receptacle with them as well in consequence of 
which it looks now quite sociable and civilised. 
Your touch is magical, in short, and your 



382 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1001 

influence infinite. The little basket went immedi- 
ately to its address, and George Gammon (! !) 
my 22-shillinger, permitted himself much 
appreciation of your humour on the little tin 
soldiers. That regiment, I see, will be more 
sparingly recruited in future. The total effect 
of all this, and of your discreet and benevolent 
glance at my ineffective economy, is to make 
me feel it fifty times a pity, a shame, a crime, 
that, as John Gilpin said to his wife " you 
should dine at Edmonton, and I should dine at 
Ware ! 5: that you should bloom at Efnngham 
and I should fade at Rye ! Your real place 
is here where I would instantly ask your leave 
to farm myself out to you. I want to be farmed ; 
I am utterly unfit to farm myself ; and I do it, 
all round, for (seeing, alas, what it is) not nearly 
little enough money. Therefore you ought to be 
over the wall and " march " with me, as you 
say in Scotland. However, even as it is, your 
mere " look round " makes for salvation. I 
am, I rejoice to say, clothed and in my right 
mind- compared with what I was when you 
left me ; and so shall go on, I trust, for a year 
and a day. I have been alone but next week 
bristles with possibilities two men at the begin- 
ning, two women (postponed the Americans) in 
the middle and madness, possibly, at the end. 
I shall have to move over to Winchelsea ! But 
while my reason abides I shall not cease to thank 
you for your truly generous and ministering visit 
and for everything that is yours. Which / am, 
very faithfully and gratefully, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AET. 58 TO W. D. HOWELLS 383 



To W. D. Howells. 

Strether's outburst to little Bilham, in Book V. of The 
Ambassadors, during their colloquy in the Parisian garden, 
represents the germ from which the novel sprang, and 
which H. J. owed, as he here tells, to Mr. Howells. The 
development of the subject from this origin is described in 
the preface afterwards written for the book. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

August 10th, 1901. 
My dear Howells, 

Ever since receiving and reading your 
elegant volume of short tales the arrival of 
which from you was affecting and delightful 
to me I've meant to write to you, but the wish 
has struggled in vain with the daily distractions 
of a tolerably busy summer. I should blush, 
however, if the season were to melt away without 
my greeting and thanking you. I read your 
book with joy and found in it recalls from far 
far away stray echoes and scents as from 
another, the American, the prehistoric existence. 
The thing that most took me was that entitled 
A Difficult Case, which I found beautiful and 
admirable, ever so true and ever so done. But 
I fear I more, almost, than anything else, lost 
myself in mere envy of your freedom to do, 
and, speaking vulgarly, to place, things of that 
particular and so agreeable dimension I mean 
the dimension of most of the stories in the 
volume. It is sternly enjoined upon one here 
(where an agent-man does what he can for me) 
that everything every hundred above 6 or 7 
thousand words is fatal to " placing " ; so that 
I do them of that length, with great care, art 
and time (much reboiling,) and then, even then, 
can scarcely get them worked off published 
even when they've been accepted. ... So that 



384 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1901 

(though I don't know why I inflict on you these 
sordid groans except that I haven't any one 
else to inflict them on and the mere affront 
of being unused so inordinately long is almost 
intolerable) I don't feel incited in that direction. 
Fortunately, however, I am otherwise immersed. 
I lately finished a tolerably long novel, and I've 
written a third of another with still another 
begun and two or three more subjects awaiting 
me thereafter like carriages drawn up at the door 
and horses champing their bits. And apropos 
of the first named of these, which is in the hands 
of the Harpers, I have it on my conscience to 
let you know that the idea of the fiction in 
question had its earliest origin in a circumstance 
mentioned to me years ago in respect to no 
less a person than yourself. At Torquay, once, 
our young friend Jon. Sturges came down to 
spend some days near me, and, lately from 
Paris, repeated to me five words you had said 
to him one day on his meeting you during a call 
at Whistler's. I thought the words charming 
you have probably quite forgotten them ; and 
the whole incident suggestive so far as it was 
an incident ; and, more than this, they presently 
caused me to see in them the faint vague germ, 
the mere point of the start, of a subject. I 
noted them, to that end, as I note everything ; 
and years afterwards (that is three or four) 
the subject sprang at me, one day, out of my 
notebook. I don't know if it be good ; at any 
rate it has been treated, now, for whatever it is ; 
and my point is that it had long before it had 
in the very act of striking me as a germ got 
away from you or from anything like you ! had 
become impersonal and independent. Never- 
theless your initials figure in my little note ; 
and if you hadn't said the five words to Jonathan 
he wouldn't have had them (most sympatheti- 



AET. 58 TO W. D. HOWELLS 385 

cally and interestingly) to relate, and I shouldn't 
have had them to work in my imagination. The 
moral is that you are responsible for the whole 
business. But I've had it, since the book was 
finished, much at heart to tell you so. May 
you carry the burden bravely ! I hope you are 
on some thymy promontory and that the winds 
of heaven blow upon you all perhaps in that 
simplified scene that you wrote to me from, 
with so gleaming a New England evocation, 
last year. The summer has been wondrous 
again in these islands four or five months, 
from April 1st, of almost merciless fine weather 
a rainlessness absolute and without precedent. 
It has made my hermitage, as a retreat, a blessing, 
and I have been able, thank goodness, to work 
without breaks other than those of prospective 
readers' hearts. It almost broke mine, the other 
day, by the way, to go down into the New Forest 
(where he has taken a house) to see Godkin, 
dear old stricken friend. He gave me, in a 
manner, news of you told me he had seen you 
lately. ... I am lone here just now with my 
sweet niece Peggy, but my brother and his wife 
are presently to be with me again for fifteen 
days before sailing (31st) for the U.S. He is 
immensely better in health, but he must take 
in sail hand over hand at home to remain so. 
Stia bene, caro amico, anche Lei (my Lei is my 
joke !) Tell Mrs. Ho wells and Mildred that I 
yearn toward them tenderly. 

Yours always and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



2iJ 



386 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1001 



To Edmund Gosse. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Sept. 16th [1901]. 

My dear Gosse, 

I hurl this after you, there, for good luck, 
like the outworn shoe of ancient usage. Even 
a very, very old shoe will take you properly 
over Venice. I wrote a week ago to Mrs. Curtis 
about you, and you will doubtless hear from her, 
beckoningly, in respect to the ever-so-amiable 
Barbaro : an impression well worth your having. 
For the rest I commit you both, paternally, to 
Brown, to whose friendly memory I beg you to 
recall me. I wish I could assist at some of your 
raptures. Go to see the Tintoretto Crucifixion at 
San Cossiano or never more be officer of mine. 
And, apropos of master-pieces, read a thing 
called Venice in a thing called Portraits of Places 
by a thing called H. J., if you can get the book : 
I'm not sure if it's in Tauchnitz, but Mrs. Curtis 
may have the same. Brown certainly won't, 
though J. A. Symonds, in the only communica- 
tion I ever got from him, told me he thought 
it the best image of V. he had ever seen made. 
This is the first time in my life, I believe, by the 
way, I ever indulged in any such in any fatuous 
reference to a fruit of my pen. So there may be 
something in it. Drink deep, both of you, 
and come home remorselessly intoxicated, and 
reeking of the purple vine, to your poor old 
attached abstainer, 

HENRY JAMES. 



A BT . 58 TO MISS JESSIE ALLEN 387 



To Miss Jessie Allen. 

The " hideous American episode " was the recent 
assassination of President McKinley, on which Mr. 
Roosevelt succeeded to the Presidency. The " heavenly 
mansion " was the Palazzo Barbaro (referred to in the 
preceding letter to Mr. Gosse), where H. J. had stayed 
in company with Miss Allen. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
September 19th, 1901. 

Dear bountiful and beautiful lady ! 

It is equally impossible to respond to you 
adequately and not to respond to you somehow. 
You flash your many-coloured lantern, over my 
small grey surface, from every corner of these 
islands, and I sit blinking, gaping, clapping my 
hands, at the purple and orange tints to such 
a tune that I've scarce presence of mind left 
for an articulate " Thank you." How you keep 
it up, and how exactly you lead the life that, 
long years ago, when I was young, I used to 
believe a very, very few fantastically happy 
mortals on earth could lead, and could survive 
the bliss of leading the waltz-like, rhythmic 
rotation from great country-house to great 
country-house, to the sound of perpetual music 
and the acclamation of the " house-parties ' ! 
that gather to await you. You are the dream 
come true you really do it, and I get the side- 
wind of the fairy-tale which is more than I can 
really quite believe of myself such a living 
almost near the rose ! You make me feel near, 
at any rate, when you write me so kindly about 
the hideous American episode almost the worst 
feature of which is that I don't either like or 
trust the new President, a dangerous and ominous 
Jingo of whom the most hopeful thing to say 
is that he may be rationalized by this sudden 



388 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1901 

real responsibility. Speriamo, as we used to 
say in the golden age, in the heavenly mansion, 
along with the ministering angel, long, long ago. 
And all thanks meanwhile for your sympathetic 
thought. It must indeed the base success of 
the act cause a sinking of the heart among the 
potentates in circulation. One wonders, for 
instance, just now, who is most nervous, the 
poor little Tsar for himself or M. Loubet for him. 
Let us thank our stars that we are not travelling 
stars, I not even a Loubet, nor you a Loubette, 
and that though we have many annoyances we are 
probably not marked for the dagger of the assassin. 
20Z/&, p.m. I had to break off last night, and 
I resume perhaps a trifle precariously at this 
midnight hour of what is just no longer Friday, 
but about to be Saturday. I have seen, as it 
were, my two guests, and my tardy servants, 
to bed, and I put in again this illegible little 
talk with (poor) you ! It has been a more 
convivial 24 hours than my general scheme of 
life often permits. . . . Such are the modest 
annals of Lamb House or rather its daily and 
nightly chronicle. But don't let it depress you 
for everything passes, and I bow my head to 
the whirlwind. But I hate the care of even a 
tiny and twopenny house and wish I could 
farm out the same. If some one would only 
undertake it and the backgarden at so much 
a year I would close with the offer and ask no 
questions. I may still have to try Whiteley. 
But I shall try a winter in town first. I blush 
for my meagreness of response to all your social 
lights and shadows, your rich record of adven- 
tures. . . . But it's now as usual over my 
letters tomorrow a.m. (I mean 1 a.m.) and I 
am, dear Miss Allen, very undecipherably but 
constantly yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



AET. 58 TO MRS. W. K. CLIFFORD 389 



To Mrs. W. K. Clifford. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Wednesday night. 

[Oct. 3, 1901.] 

Dearest Lucy C. 

I have waited to welcome you, to thank 
you for your dear and brilliant Vienna letter, 
because you stayed my hand (therein) from 
writing for want of an address ; and because 
I've believed that not till now (if even now) 
would you be disengaged from the tangled 
skein of your adventures. And even at this 
hour (of loud-ticking midnight stillness,) I don't 
pretend to do more than greet you affection- 
ately on the threshold of home ; promise you a 
better equivalent (for your so interesting, so 
envy-squeezing, so vivid record of adventure) 
at some very near date ; and, above all, renew 
my jubilation at your having made so good 
and brave a thing of it all especially as full and 
unstinted a one as you desired. Never mind 
the money, I handsomely say you will get it 
all back and much more in the refreshment 
and renewal and general intellectual ventilation 
your six weeks will have been to you. I'm sure 
the effect will go far I want details so much 
that I wish I were to see you soon but, alas, 
I don't quite see when. I'm just emerging from 
a domestic cyclone that has, in one way and 
another, cost me so much time, that, pressed 
as I am with a woefully backward book, I can 
only for the present hug my writing-table with 
convulsive knees. The figure doesn't fit but 
the postponement of all joy, alas, does. My 
two old man- and- wife servants (who had been 
with me sixteen years) were, a few days ago, 
shot into space (thank heaven at last !) by a 



390 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1901 

whirlwind of but 48 hours duration ; and though 
the absolute rupture came and went in that 
time, the horrid accompaniments and upheaved 
neighbourhoods have represented a woeful inter- 
ruption. But it's over, and I have plunged again 
(and am living, blissfully, for the present, with 
a house-maid and a charwoman, and immensely 
enjoying my simplified state and my relief from 
what I see now was a long nightmare). 

I read your play in the Nineteenth Century, 
as you invited me, but I can't write of it now 
beyond saying that I was greatly struck by the 
care and finish you had given it. If I must tell 
you categorically, however, I don't think it a 
scenic subject at all ; I think it bears all the 
mark of a subject selected for a tale and done 
as a play as an after- thought. I don't see, that 
is, what the scenic form does, or can do, for it, 
that the narrative couldn't do better or what 
it, in turn, does for the scenic form. The inward- 
ness is a kind of inwardness that doesn't become 
an outwardness effectively theatrically ; and 
the part played in the whole by the painting 
of the portrait seems to me the kind of thing 
for which the play is a non-conductor. And here 
I am douching you on your doorstep with cold 
water. We must talk, we must colloquise and 
compare and renew the first moment we can, 
and I am all the while and ever your affectionate 
old friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Miss Muir Mackenzie. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Wednesday night. [Oct. 17, 1901]. 

Dear Miss Muir Mackenzie, 

One almost infallibly begins at least the 
perpetually criminal I do with the assurance 



AST. 58 TO MISS MUIR MACKENZIE 391 

that one has, from long since, been on the point ! 
And it remains eternally true ; which makes no 
difference, however, in your being bored to 
hear it. Besides, if I had been writing a month 
ago I shouldn't, perhaps, be writing now ; and 
that I am writing now is a present joy to me 
which I would barter for none other, no mere 
luxury of conscience. I haven't, for weeks, 
strolled through my now blighted and stricken 
jardinet without reverting gratefully in thought 
to you as its titular directress ; without wishing, 
at once, that it were more worthy of you, and 
recognising, recalling your hand and mind, in 
most of its least humiliating features. Your 
kind visit, so scantly honoured, so meagrely 
recorded (I mean by commemorative tablet or 
other permanent demonstration,) lives again in 
some of the faded phenomena of the scene 
and the blush revives which the sense of how 
poor a host I was caused even then to visit my 
cheek. I want you in particular to know what 
a joy and pride your great proud and pink 
tobacco-present has proved. It has overlorded 
the confused and miscellaneous border in which 
your masterly eye recognised its imperative 
not to say imperial place, and it has reduced 
by its mere personal success all the incoherence 
around it to comparative insignificance. What 
a bliss, what a daily excitement, all summer, 
to see it grow by leaps and bounds and to feel 
it happy and hearty as much as it could be 
in its strange exile and inferior company. It 
has all prospered though some a little smothered 
by more vulgar neighbours ; and the tallest 
of the brotherhood are still as handsome as 
ever, with a particular shade of watered wine- 
colour in the flower that I much delight in. 
And yet ninny that I am ! I don't know 
what to do with them for next year. My 



392 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES igoi 

gardener opines that we leave them, as your 
perennial monument, just as they are. But I 
have vague glimmerings of conviction that we 
cut them down to a mere small protrusion above 
ground and we probably both are fully wrong. 
Or do we extract precious seed and plant afresh ? 
Forgive my feeble (I repeat) flounderings. I 
feel as the dunce of an infant school trying to 
babble Greek to Professor Jebb (or suchlike.) 
I am none the less hoping that the garden 
will be less dreadful and casual next year. 
We've ordered 105 roses also divers lilies and 
made other vague dashes. Oh, you should be 
in controlling permanence ! Actually we are 
painfully preparing to become bulbous and parti- 
coloured. One must occupy the gardener. The 
grapes have been bad (bless their preposterous 
little pretensions !) but the figs unprecedentedly 
numerous. And so on, and so on. And it has 
been for me a rather feverish and accidente sum- 
mer; I mean through the constant presence of 
family till a month ago, and through a prolonged 
domestic upheaval ever since. I sit amid the 
ruins of a once happy household, clutching a 
charwoman with one hand, and a knife-boy 
from Lilliput with the other. A man and his 
wife, who had lived with me for long, long years, 
and were (in spite of growing infirmities and the 
darker and darker shadow of approaching doom) 
the mainstay of my existence, were sacrificed 
to the just gods three or four weeks ago, and 
I've picnicked (for very relief) ever since 
making futile attempts at reconstruction for 
which I have had no time, and yet which have 
consumed so much of it that none has been 
left, as I began by hinting, for correspondence. 
I've been up to London over it, and haunted 
Hastings, and wired to friends, and almost 
appealed to the Grand Governess only deterred 



. 58 TO MISS MUIR MACKENZIE 393 

by the fear of hearing from her that it isn't 
her province. Yet I did wonder if I couldn't 
lawfully work it in under kitchen-garden. No 
matter ; my fate closes round me again, and the 
first thing I think of now when I wake up in 
the morning is that a " cook-housekeeper " in a 
Gorringe (?) costume (?) is to arrive next week. 
I tremble at her. If the worst comes to the worst 
I shall make you responsible. I walked over to 
Winchelsea this afternoon and returned, in dark- 
ness and wet, by the far-off station and the 
merciful train always re-weaving the legend 
of your wet exile there. It blows, it rains, 
it rages to-night for the first time here for six 
months. I hope you haven't had again to eat 
overmuch the bread of banishment. I haven't 
asked you for your news have only jabbered 
my own ; but I believe you not unaware that 
this is but a subtler art for extracting from you 
the whole of your herbaceous (and other) history. 
May it have been mild and merciful. Good-night 
or, as usual, good-morning I am going to 
bed, but it has been for some time to-morrow. 
Yours, dear Miss Muir Mackenzie, very gratefully 
and faithfully, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Edmund Gosse. 

The reference in the following is to W. E. Henley's 
provocative article in the Pall Mall Magazine on Mr. 
Graham Balfour's recently published Life of Robert Louis 
Stevenson. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
November 20th, 1901. 
My dear Gosse, 

I have been very sorry to hear from you 
of renewed upsets on quitting these walls the 
same fate having, I remember, overtaken you 



394 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1901 

most of the other times you've been here. I 
trust it isn't the infection of the walls them- 
selves, nor of the refection (so scant last time) 
enjoyed within them. Is it some baleful effluence 
of your host ? He will try and exercise next 
time some potent counter-charm and mean- 
while he rejoices that your devil is cast out. 

All thanks for your so vivid news of the overflow 
of Henley's gall. Ca ne pouvait manquer ca 
devait venir. I have sent for the article and will 
write you when I've read it. I gather from you 
that it's really rather a striking and lurid and 
so far interesting case of long discomfortable 
jealousy and ranklement turned at last to 
posthumous (as it were !) malignity, and making 
the man do, coram publico, his ugly act, risking 
the dishonour for the assuagement. That is, 
on the part of a favourite of the press etc., a 
remarkable " psychologic " incident or perhaps 
I'm talking in the air, from not having read the 
thing. I dare say, moreover, at all events, 
that H. did very seriously I mean sincerely 
deplore all the graces that had crept into Louis's 
writing all the more that they had helped it 
so to be loved : he honestly thinks that L. 
should have written like well, like who but 
Henley's self ? But the whole business illus- 
trates how life takes upon itself to give us more 
true and consistent examples of human un- 
pleasantness than expectation could suggest 
makes a given man, I mean, live up to his ugliness. 
This one's whole attitude in respect to these 
recent amiable commemorations of Louis the 
having (I, " self-conscious and alone ") nothing 
to do with them, contained singularly the promise 
of some positive aggression. I have, however, 
this a.m., a letter trom Graham Balfour (in 
answer to one I had written him on reading 
his book,) in which, speaking of Henley's paper, 



AST. 58 TO EDMUND GOSSE 395 

he says it's less bad than he expected. He 
apparently feared more. It's since you were 
here, by the way, that I've read his record, 
in which, as to its second volume, I found a 
good deal of fresh interest and charm. It seems 
to me, the whole thing, very neatly and tactfully 
done for an amateur, a non-expert. But, I see 
now that a really curious thing has happened, 
a " case " occurred much more interesting than 
the cas Henley. Insistent publicity, so to speak, 
has done its work (I only knew it was doing it, 
but G. B.'s book's a settler,) and Louis, qua 
artist, is now, definitely, the victim thereof. 
That is, he has superseded, personally, his books, 
and this last re- placement of himself so en scene 
(so largely by his own aid, too) has killed the 
literary baggage. Out of no mystery now do 
they issue, the creations in question and they 
couldn't afford to lose it. Louis himself never 
understood that ; he too publicly caressed and 
accounted for them but I needn't insist on what 
I mean. As I see it, at all events, it's a strange 
little evolution and all taking place here, quite 
compactly, under one's nose. 

I don't come up to town, alas, for more than a 
few necessary hours, till I've finished my book, 
and that will be when God pleases. I pray 
for early in January. But then I shall stay as 
long as ever I can. All thanks for your news 
of Norris, to whom I shall write. I envy your 
Venetian newses but I myself have written 
for some. I rain good wishes on your house and 
am yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



396 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 



To H. G. Wells. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
January 20th, 1902. 

My dear Wells, 

Don't, I beseech you, measure the interest 
I've taken in your brilliant book (that is in the 
prior of the recent pair of them,) and don't 
measure any other decency or humanity of mine 
(in relation to anything that is yours,) by my 
late abominable and aggravated silence. You 
most handsomely sent me Anticipations when 
the volume appeared, and I was not able immedi- 
ately to read it ; I was bothered and preoccupied 
with many things, wished for a free mind and an 
attuned ear for it, so let it wait till the right 
hour, knowing that neither you nor I would 
lose by the process. The right hour came, 
and I gave myself up utterly, admirably up 
to the charm ; but the charm, on its side, left 
me so spent, as it were, with saturation, that I 
had scarce pulled myself round before the com- 
plications of Xmas set in, and the New Year's 
flood in respect to correspondence was upon 
me ; which I've been till now buffeting and 
breasting. And then I was ashamed and I'm 
ashamed still. That is the penalty of vice 
one's shame disqualifies one for the company 
of virtue. Yet, all this latter time, I've taken 
the greatest pleasure in my still throbbing and 
responding sense of the book. 

I found it then, I assure you, extraordinarily 
and unceasingly interesting. It's not that I 
haven't hadn't reserves and reactions, but that 
the great source of interest never failed : which 
great source was simply H. G. W. himself. You, 
really, come beautifully out of your adventure, 
come out of it immensely augmented and ex- 



. 68 TO H. G. WELLS 397 

tended, like a belligerent who has annexed half- 
a-kingdom, with drums and trumpets and banners 
all sounding and flying. And this is because 
the thing, in our deadly day, is such a charming 
exhibition of complete freedom of mind. That's 
what I enjoyed in it your intellectual dis- 
encumberedness ; very interesting to behold as 
the direct fruit of training and observation. 
A gallant show altogether and a gallant temper 
and a gallant tone. For the rest, you will be 
tired of hearing that, for vaticination, you, to 
excess, simplify. Besides, the phrophet (see how 
I recklessly spell him, to do him the greater 
honour !) must I can't imagine a subtilizing 
prophet. At any rate I don't make you a 
reproach of simplifying, for if you hadn't I 
shouldn't have been able to understand you. 
But on the other hand I think your reader asks 
himself too much " Where is life in all this, 
life as I feel it and know it ? ' : Subject 
of your speculations as it is, it is nevertheless 
too much left out. That comes partly from 
your fortunate youth it's a more limited mystery 
for you than for the Methuselah who now 
addresses you. There's less of it with you to 
provide for, and it's less a perturber of your 
reckoning. There are for instance more kinds 
of people, I think, in the world more irreducible 
kinds than your categories meet. However, 
your categories do you, none the less, great 
honour, the greatest, worked out as they are ; 
and I quite agree that, as before hinted, if one 
wants more life, there is Mr. Lewisham himself, 
of Spade House, exhaling it from every pore 
and in the centre of the picture. That is the 
great thing : he makes, Mr. Lewisham does, 
your heroic red-covered romance. It had to 
have a hero and it has an irresistible one. 
Such is my criticism. I can't go further. I 



398 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 

can't take you up in detail. I am under the 
charm. My world is, somehow, other ; but I 
can't produce it. Besides, I don't want to. 
You can, and do, produce yours so you've a 
right to talk. Finally, moreover, your book 
is full of truth and wit and sanity that's where 
I mean you come out so well. I go to London 
next week for three months ; but on my return, 
in May, I should like well to see you. What a 
season you must have had, with philosophy, 
poetry and the banker ! I had a saddish letter 
from Gissing but rumours of better things for 
him (I mean reviving powers) have come to me, 
I don't quite know how, since. Conrad haunts 
Winchelsea, and Winchelsea (in discretion) 
haunts Rye. So foot it up, and accept, at near 
one o'clock in the morning, the cordial good-night 
and general benediction of yours, my dear Wells, 
more than ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Percy Lubbock. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

March 9th, 1902. 
My dear Percy Lubbock, 

I've been very uncivilly silent, but I've 
also been still more dismally hindered I mean 
ever since receiving your good note of Feb. 22d. 
It found me wearily drearily ill, in bed ; such 
had been my state ever since Jan. 29th, and it 
ceased to be my state only ten days ago since 
when I have sat feebly staring at a mountain 
of unanswered letters. I did go to London, 
Jan. 27th, but was immediately stricken, and 
scrambled back here to be more commodiously 
prostrate. I've had to stay and recuperate. 
But I am infinitely better only universally 
behind. Still, it isn't too late, I hope, to tell 



AJ.T. 58 TO PERCY LUBBOCK 399 

you it would have given me extreme pleasure 
to see you in town had everything been different. 
Also that I congratulate you with all my heart 
on the great event of your young, your first, 
your never to be surpassed or effaced, prime 
Italianische Reise. It's a great event (the revela- 
tion) at any time of life, but it's altogether 
immeasurable at your lucky one. Yet there 
are things to be said too. As that there would 
be no use whatever in my having " told you 
what to do." There wouldn't be the remotest 
chance of your doing it. The place, the time, 
the aspect, the colour of the light and the inclina- 
tion of Percy Lubbock, will already be making 
for you their own law, or, better still, causing 
you to live generally lawless and promiscuous. 
Be promiscuous and incoherent and intelligent, 
absorbent, happy : it's your great chance. Be 
further glad of every Italian vocable you take 
to your heart, and help me to hope that our 
meeting over it all is only moderately put off 
when you'll have ever so interesting things to 
tell to yours most truly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Gaillard T. Lapsley. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

June 22nd, 1902. 
My dear, dear Boy ! 

The penalty of shameful turpitude is 
that even reparation and contrition are made 
almost impossible by the dimensions of the 
abyss that separates the criminal from virtue. 
Or, more simply, the amount of explanation 
(of my baseness) that I have felt myself saddled 
with toward you, has long operated as a further 
and a fatal deterrent in respect to writing to 
you at all. The burden of my shame has in 



400 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 



1902 



short piled up my silence, and to break that 
hideous spell I must now cast explanations 
to the winds ere they crush me altogether. 
I've had a rather blighted and broken winter 
a good deal of somewhat ominous unwellness, 
now happily (D.V.) overpast. Under the effect 
of it all my correspondence has gone to pieces, 
and though I've managed to write two books 
I've done so mainly by an economy of moyens 
that has forbidden my answering even a note 
or two. I've thought of you, dreamed of you, 
followed you, admired you, in fine tenderly 
loved you : done everything accordingly but 
treat you decently. But I'm all right in the 
long, the very long run, and your admirably 
interesting and charming letter of ever so many 
months ago has never ceased to be a joy and 
pride to me. Those emotions have just been 
immeasureably quickened by something told 
me by my brave little cousin Bay Emmet (the 
paintress) viz. her having lately met you in 
New York and heard on your lips words (a mon 
adresse) not of resentment or scorn, but of 
divine magnanimity and gentleness. You appear 
to have spoken to her "as if you still liked me," 
and I like you so much for that that the vibration 
has started these stammering accents. I really 
write you these words not from my peaceful 
hermitage by the southern sea, but from the 
depths of the meretricious metropolis, which 
I've never known so detestable as at this most 
tawdry of crises, and from which I hope to escape 
in a day or two, utterly dodging the insane 
crush of the Coronation. The place is vilely 
disfigured by league-long hoardings (for spec- 
tators at 10. 0. 0. a head,) and cheap and awful 
decorations, and the dear old Abbey in particular 
smothered into the likeness of the Earl's Court 
Exhibition not to be distinguished from the 



A ET . 59 TO GAILLARD T. LAPSLEY 401 

Westminster Aquarium, in fact, opposite. And 
then the crowds, the gregarious, gaping millions, 
are appalling, and I fly, in fine, back to the 
Southern Sea on the shore of which I've spent 
almost all my time for almost a year past. I've 
lately been dabbling a little, for compensation, 
in town ; but I find small doses of London now 
go further, for my organisation, than they used. 

B. Emmet tells me that you still sit aloft in 
California and I permit myself to rejoice in it, 
in spite of some of the lurid lights projected by 
your so vivid letter over the composition of that 
milieu. You tell me things of awful suggestion 
and in respect to which I would give anything 
for more talk with you and more chance for 
question and answer. 

June 26th. The foregoing, my dear Boy, 
though dated here, was written in London 
which means that in the confusion and dis- 
traction, the present chaotic crash of things 
there, it was also interrupted. I had been there 
for a snatch of but three or four days, and I 
rushed back here, in horror and dismay (24 hours 
since), just before the poor King's collapse set 
the seal on the general gregarious madness. I 
had " chucked " the Coronation, thank heaven, 
before the Coronation chucked me, and this 
little russet and green corner, as so often before, 
has been breathing balm and peace to me after 
the huge bear-garden. The latter beggars de- 
scription at the present moment and must now 
do so doubly while reeling under the smash of 
everything. I feel like a man who has jumped, 
safe, from an express-train before a collision 
and to make really sure of my not having broken 
my neck I take up again this distempered 
scrawl to you. But I won't talk of all this 
dreary pandemonium here dreary whatever the 
issue of the poor King's illness ; inasmuch as, 



402 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1002 

either way, it can only mean more gregarious 
madness, more league-long hoarding, more blocks 
of traffic and deluges of dust and tons of news- 
paper verbiage. Amen ! 

What I didn't begin to say to you the other 
day was how interesting and awful I found 
your picture of your seat of learning. I rejoice 
with all my heart that it has attached you, 
for just " the likes of you " are what must make 
a difference (by influence, by example, by 
civilization, by revelation) in the strange mix- 
ture or absence of mixture of its elements. 
I gather from you that its air is all female, so 
to speak, and that in this buoyant medium you 
triumphantly float. It must be very wonderful 
and fearful and indescribable, all of it, lifelike 
indeed though your sketch appears to me. I 
wish immensely I could see you, so that we 
could get nearer, together, to everything. You 
come out most summers is there no chance 
of your doing so this year ? I seem to infer 
the sad contrary, from my little cousin's not 
having told me that you mentioned anything 
of the sort to her. I have the sense of having 
seen you odiously little last year a blighted 
and distracted season. As I read over at present 
your generous letter I feel a special horror and 
dismay at having failed so long and so abominably 
to give you the promised word of introduction 
to Fanny Stevenson. I enclose one herewith 
but I must tell you that I feel myself to be 
launching it rather into the dark. That is, I 
have a fear that she is rather changed or rather 
exaggerated with time, illness etc. and that 
you may find her somewhat aged, queer, eccentric 
etc. And I'm not sure I'm possessed of her 
address. Only remember this that she (with 
all deference to her) was never the person to 
have seen, it was R. L. S. himself. But good- 



69 TO GAILLARD T. LAPSLEY 403 

night. I haven't half responded to you, nor 
met you in your charming details ; yet I am, 
none the less, my dear Lapsley, very affection- 
ately yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To Mrs. Cadwalader Jones. 

Mrs. Jones, it will be understood, had sent him two 
of the books of her sister-in-law, Mrs. Wharton. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

August 20th, 1902. 
Dictated. 

Dear and bountiful Lady, 

My failure, during these few days, to thank 
you for everything has not come from a want 
of appreciation of anything or from a want 
of gratitude, or lively remembrance, or fond hope ; 
or, in short, from anything but a quite calculating 
and canny view that I shall perhaps come in, 
during your present episode, with a slightly 
greater effect of direct support and encourage- 
ment than if I had come during the fever of your 
late short interval in London. It seems to be 
" borne in " to me that you may be feeling 
la ou vous etes a little lone and lorn, a little 
alien and exotic ; so that the voice of the com- 
patriot, counsellor and moderator, may fall upon 
your ears with an approach to sweetness. I am 
sure, all the same, that you are in a situation 
of great and refreshing novelty and of general 
picturesque interest. At your leisure you will 
give me news of it, and I wish you meanwhile, 
as the best advice, to drain it to the dregs and 
leave no element of it untasted. 

My situation has, en attendant, been made 
picturesque by the successive arrivals of your 
different mementoes, each one of which has 



404 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 

done its little part to assuage my solitude and 
relieve my gloom. Putting them in their order, 
Mrs. Wharton comes in an easy first ; the 
unspeakable Postum follows handsomely, and 
Protoplasm by which I mean Plasmon pants 
far behind. How shall I thank you properly 
for these prompt and valued missives ? Postum 
does taste like a ferociously mild coffee a coffee 
reduced to second childhood, the prattle of 
senility. I hasten to add, however, that it 
accords thereby but the better with my en- 
feebled powers of assimilation, and that I am 
taking it regular and blessing your name for 
it. It interposes a little ease after the long 
and unattenuated grimness of cocoa. Since 
Jackson was able to provide it with so little 
delay, I feel I may count on him for blessed 
renewals. But I shall never count on any one 
again for Plasmon, which is gruesome and medi- 
cinal, or at all events an " acquired taste," 
which the rest of my life will not be long enough 
to acquire. 

Mrs. Wharton is another affair, and I take 
to her very kindly as regards her diabolical 
little cleverness, the quantity of intention and 
intelligence in her style, and her sharp eye for 
an interesting kind of subject. I had read 
neither of these two volumes, and though the 
" Valley " is, for significance of ability, several 
pegs above either, I have extracted food for 
criticism from both. As criticism, in the nobler 
sense of the word, is for me enjoyment, I've in 
other words much liked them. Only they've 
made me again, as I hinted to you other things 
had, want to get hold of the little lady and pump 
the pure essence of my wisdom and experience 
into her. She must be tethered in native pastures, 
even if it reduce her to a back-yard in New York. 
If a work of imagination, of fiction, interests 



AET. 59 TO MRS. CADWALADER JONES 405 

me at all (and very few, alas, do !) I always 
want to write it over in my own way, handle 
the subject from my own sense of it. That 
I always find a pleasure in, and I found it ex- 
tremely in the " Vanished Hand " over which 
I should have liked, at several points, to contend 
with her. But I can't speak more highly for 
any book, or at least for my interest in any. I 
take liberties with the greatest. 

But you will say that in ticking out this 
amount of Remingtonese at you I am taking a 
great liberty with you ; or rather, of course, I 
know you won't, since you gave me kind leave 
for which I shamelessly bless you. . . . Good- 
bye with innumerable good wishes. Please tell 
Miss Beatrix that these are addressed equally 
to her, as in fact my whole letter is, and that my 
liveliest interest attends her on her path. 

Yours and hers always affectionately, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To W. D. Howells. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Sept. 12th, 1902. 

Dictated. 

My dear Howells, 

An inscrutable and untoward fate con- 
demns me to strange delinquencies though it 
is no doubt the weakness of my nature as well 
as the strength of the said treacherous principle 
that the " undone vast," in my existence, 
lords it chronically and shamelessly over the 
" petty done." It strikes me indeed both as 
vast, and yet in a monstrous way as petty too, 
that I should have joyed so in " The Kentons" 
which you sent me, ever so kindly, more weeks 
ago than it would be decent in me to count 



406 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 

should have eaten and drunk and dreamed and 
thought of them as I did, should have sunk 
into them, in short, so that they closed over 
my head like living waters and kept me down, 
down in subaqueous prostration, and all the 
while should have remained, so far as you are 
concerned, brutishly and ungratefully dumb. 
I haven't been otherwise dumb, I assure you 
that is so far as they themselves are concerned : 
there was a time when I talked of nothing and 
nobody else, and I have scarcely even now 
come to the end of it. I think in fact it is 
because I have been so busy vaunting and pro- 
claiming them, up and down the more or less 
populated avenues of my life, that I have had 
no time left for anything else. The avenue 
on which you live, worse luck, is perversely 
out of my beat. Why, however, do I talk thus ? 
I know too well how you know too well that 
letters, in the writing life, are the last things 
that get themselves written. You see the way 
that this one tries to manage it which at least 
is better than no way. All the while, at any 
rate, the impression of the book remains, and I 
have infinitely pleased myself, even in my shame, 
with thinking of the pleasure that must have 
come to yourself from so acclaimed and attested 
a demonstration of the freshness, within you 
still, of the spirit of evocation. Delightful, in 
one's golden afternoon, and after many days 
and many parturitions, to put forth thus a 
young, strong, living flower. You have done 
nothing more true and complete, more thoroughly 
homogeneous and hanging-together, without the 
faintest ghost of a false note or a weak touch 
all as sharply ciphered-up and tapped- out as 
the " proof ' : of a prize scholar's sum on a 
slate. It is in short miraculously felt and beauti- 
fully done, and the aged by which I mean the 



AST. 59 TO W. D. HOWELLS 407 

richly-matured sposi as done as if sposi were a 
new and fresh idea to you. Of all your sposi 
they are, I think, the most penetrated and most 
penetrating. I took in short true comfort in 
the whole manifestation, the only bitterness in 
the cup being that it made me feel old. / shall 
never again so renew myself. But I want to 
hear from you that it has really the sense and 
the cheer of having done it set you spinning 
again with a quickened hum. When you men- 
tioned to me, I think in your last letter, that 
you had done The Kentons, you mentioned 
at the same time the quasi-completion of some- 
thing else. It is this thing I now want 
won't it soon be coming due ? and if you will 
magnanimously send it to me I promise you 
to have, for it. better manners. Meanwhile, let 
me add, I have directed the Scribners to send 
you a thing of my own, too long-winded and 
minute a thing, but well-meaning, just put 
forth under the name of The Wings of the Dove. 

I hope the summer's end finds you still out 
of the streets, and that it has all been a com- 
fortable chapter. I hear of it from my brother 
as the Great Cool Time, which makes for me a 
pleasant image, since I generally seem to sear 
my eyeballs, from June to September, when I 
steal a glance, across the sea, at the bright 
American picture. Here, of course, we have 
been as grey and cold, as " braced " and rheu- 
matic and uncomfortable as you please. But 
that has little charm of novelty though (not 
to blaspheme) we have, since I've been living 
here, occasionally perspired. I live here, as 
you see, still, and am by this time, like the 
dyer's hand, subdued to what I work in, or at 
least try to economise in. It is pleasant enough, 
for five or six months of the year, for me to 
wish immensely that some crowning stroke of 



408 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 

fortune may still take the form of driving you 
over to see me before I fall to pieces. Apropos 
of which I am forgetting what has been half 
my reason no, not half for writing to you. 
Many weeks ago there began to be blown about 
the world from what fountain of lies proceeding 
I know not a rumour that you were staying 
with me here, a rumour flaunting its little hour 
as large as life in some of the London papers. 
It brought me many notes of inquiry, invitations 
to you, and other tributes to your glory damn 
it ! (I don't mean damn your glory, but damn 
the wanton and worrying rumour). Among other 
things it brought me a fattish letter addressed 
to you and which I have been so beastly pro- 
crastinating as not to forward you till now, 
when I post it with this. Its aspect somehow 
denotes insignificance and impertinence, and I 
haven't wanted to do it, as a part of the 
so grossly newspaperistic impudence, too much 
honour; besides, verily, the intention day after 
day of writing you at the same time. Well, 
there it all is. You will think my letter as long 
as my book. So I add only my benediction, 
as ever, on your house, beginning with Mrs. 
Howells, going straight through, and ramifying 
as far as you permit me. 

Yours, my dear Howells, always and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To H. G. Wells. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
September 23rd, 1902. 
My dear Wells, 

All's well that ends well and everything 
is to hand. I thank you, heartily, for the same, 
and I have read the Two Men, dangling breath- 
lessly at the tail of their tub while in the air 



A*r. 59 TO H. G. WELLS 409 

and plying them with indiscreet questions while 
out of it. It is, the whole thing, stupendous, 
but do you know what the main effect of it 
was on my cheeky consciousness ? To make 
me sigh, on some such occasion, to collaborate 
with you, to intervene in the interest of well, 
I scarce know what to call it : I must wait to 
find the right name when we meet. You can 
so easily avenge yourself by collaborating with 
me ! Our mixture would, I think, be effective. 
I hope you are thinking of doing Mars in 
some detail. Let me in there, at the right 
moment or in other words at an early stage. 
I really shall, opportunity serving, venture to 
try to say two or three things to you about the 
Two Men or rather not so much about them 
as about the cave of conceptions whence they 
issue. All I can say now however is that the 
volume goes like a bounding ball, that it is 
12.30 a.m., and that I am goodnightfully yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Mrs. Cadwalader Jones. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

October 23d, 1902. 
Dear Mrs. Cadwalader, 

Both your liberal letters have reached 
me, and have given me, as the missives of retreat- 
ing friends never fail to do, an almost sinister 
sense of the rate at which the rest of the world 
goes, moves, rushes, voyages, railroads, passing 
from me through a hundred emotions and adven- 
tures, and pulling up in strange habitats, while 
I sit in this grassy corner artlessly thinking 
that the days are few and the opportunities 
small (quite big enough for the likes of me though 
the latter be even here.) All of which means 



410 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 

of course simply that you take away my breath. 
But that was on the cards and it's not worth 
mentioning. Your best news for me is of your 
being, for complete convalescence, in the super- 
lative hands you describe to which I hope you 
are already doing infinite credit. I kind of make 
you out, " down there," I mean in the pretty, 
very pretty, as it used to be, New York Autumn, 
and in the Washington Squareish region trodden 
by the steps of my childhood, and I wonder if 
you ever kick the October leaves as you walk 
in Fifth Avenue, as I can to this hour feel myself, 
hear myself, positively smell myself doing. But 
perhaps there are no leaves and no trees now in 
Fifth Avenue nothing but patriotic arches, 
Astor hotels and Vanderbilt palaces. (My 
secretary was on the point of writing the great 
name " aster " which I think the most delight- 
ful irony of fate ! they are so flowerlike a race !) 
The October leaves are at any rate gathering 
about me here and that I have watched them 
fall, and lighted my fire and trimmed my lamp, 
is about the only thing that has happened to 
me though I should count in a visit from a 
delightful nephew, who has just been with me 
for a fortnight, and left me for Geneva, where 
he spends the winter. 

I assisted dimly, through your discreet page, 
at your visit to Mrs. Wharton, whose Lenox 
house must be a love, and I wish I could have 
been less remotely concerned. In the way of 
those I know I hope you have by this time, 
on your own side, gathered in John La Farge, 
and are not allowing him to feel anything but 
that he is well and happy except, also, that I 
very affectionately remember him. . . . 

But I am not thanking you, all this time, 
for the interesting remarks about the book I 
had last placed in your hands (The Wings of 



AET. 59 TO MRS. CADWALADER JONES 411 

the Dove), which you so heroically flung upon 
paper even on the heaving deep a feat to me 
very prodigious. I won't say your criticism 
was eminent for the time and place I'll say, 
frankly, that it was eminent in itself, and all 
full of suggestion. The fact is, however, that 
one is so aware one's self, even to satiety, of the 
rights and wrongs of these matters especially 
of the wrongs -that freshness of mind almost 
fails for discriminations, however benevolent, 
of others. Such is the price of having written 
many books and lived many years. The thing 
in question is, by a complicated accident which 
it would take too long to describe to you, too 
inordinately drawn out, and too inordinately 
rubbed in. The centre, moreover, isn't in the 
the middle, or the middle, rather, isn't in the 
centre, but ever so much too near the end, so that 
what was to come after it is truncated. The 
book, in fine, has too big a head for its body. 
I am trying, all the while, to write one with the 
opposite disproportion the body too big for 
its head. So I shall perhaps do if I live to 150. 
Don't therefore undermine me by general 
remarks. And dictating, please, has moreover 
nothing to do with it. The value of that process 
for me is in its help to do over and over, for 
which it is extremely adapted, and which is 
the only way I can do at all. It soon enough, 
accordingly, becomes, intellectually, absolutely 
identical with the act of writing or has become 
so, after five years now, with me ; so that the 
difference is only material and illusory only the 
difference, that is, that I walk up and down : 
which is so much to the good. But I must 
stop walking now. I stand quite still to send 
my hearty benediction to Miss Beatrix and I 
am yours and hers very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



412 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 



To H. G. Wells. 

The only two " effusions," of the kind described in this 
letter, that have survived are the preliminary schemes for 
the unfinished novels, The Ivory Tower and The Sense of the 
Past, published with them in 1917. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
November 15th, 1902. 
My dear Wells, 

It is too horribly long that I have neglected 
an interesting (for I can't say an interested) 
inquiry of yours in your last note ; and ne- 
glected it precisely because the acknowledgment 
involved had to be an explanation. I have 
somehow, for the last month, not felt capable 
of explanations, it being my infirmity that 
when " finishing a book " (and that seems my 
chronic condition) my poor enfeebled cerebra- 
tion becomes incapable of the least extra effort, 
however slight and simple. My correspondence 
then shrinks and shrinks only the least explicit 
of my letters get themselves approximately 
written. And somehow it has seemed highly 
explicit to tell you that (in reply to your suggestive 
last) those wondrous and copious preliminary 
statements (of my fictions that are to be) don't 
really exist in any form in which they can be 
imparted. I think I know to whom you allude 
as having seen their semblance and indeed 
their very substance ; but in two exceptional 
(as it were) cases. In these cases what was 
seen was the statement drawn up on the basis 
of the serialization of the work drawn up in 
one case with extreme detail and at extreme 
length (in 20,000 words !) Pinker saw that : 
it referred to a long novel, afterwards (this 
more than a year) written and finished, but 
not yet, to my great inconvenience, published ; 



AET. 59 TO H. G. WELLS 413 

but it went more than two years ago to America, 
to the Harpers, and there remained and has 
probably been destroyed. Were it here I would 
with pleasure transmit it to you ; for, though 
I say it who should not, it was, the statement, 
full and vivid, I think, as a statement could be, 
of a subject as worked out. Then Conrad saw 
a shorter one of the Wings of the D. also well 
enough in its way, but only half as long and 
proportionately less developed. That had been 
prepared so that the book might be serialized 
in another American periodical, but this wholly 
failed (what secrets and shames I reveal to you !) 
and the thing (the book) was then written, the 
subject treated, on a more free and independent 
scale. But that synopsis too has been destroyed ; 
it was returned from the U.S., but I had then 
no occasion to preserve it. And evidently no 
fiction of mine can or will now be serialized ; 
certainly I shall not again draw up detailed and 
explicit plans for unconvinced and ungracious 
editors ; so that I fear I shall have nothing of 
that sort to show. A plan for myself, as copious 
and developed as possible, I always do draw up 
that is the two documents I speak of were based 
upon, and extracted from, such a preliminary 
private outpouring. But this latter voluminous 
effusion is, ever, so extremely familiar, con- 
fidential and intimate in the form of an inter- 
minable garrulous letter addressed to my own 
fond fancy that, though I always, for easy 
reference, have it carefully typed, it isn't a thing 
I would willingly expose to any eye but my own. 
And even then, sometimes, I shrink ! So there 
it is. I am greatly touched by your respectful 
curiosity, but I haven't, you see, anything 
coherent to produce. Let me promise however 
that if I ever do, within any calculable time, 
address a manifesto to the dim editorial mind, 



414 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 

you shall certainly have the benefit of a copy. 
Candour compels me to add that that consumma- 
tion has now become unlikely. It is too wantonly 
expensive a treat to them. In the first place 
they will none of me, and in the second the relief, 
and greater intellectual dignity, so to speak, 
of working on one's own scale, one's own line 
of continuity and in one's own absolutely inde- 
pendent tone, is too precious to me to be again 
forfeited. Pardon my too many words. I only 
add that I hope the domestic heaven bends blue 
above you. 

Yours, my dear Wells, always, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Mrs. Frank Maihews. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

November 18th, 1902. 
My dear Mary, 

You have made me a most beautiful and 
interesting present, and I thank you heartily 
for the lavish liberality and trouble of the same. 
It arrived this a.m. swathed like a mummy 
of the Pharaohs, and is a monument to the care 
and skill of every one concerned. The photo- 
grapher has retouched the impression rather too 
freely, especially the eyes (if one could but keep 
their hands off!) but the image has a pleasing 
ghostliness, as out of the far past, and affects 
me pathetically as if it were of the dead of 
one who died young and innocent. Well, so 
he did, and I can speak of him or admire him, 
poor charming slightly mawkish youth, quite 
as I would another. I remember (it now all 
comes back to me) when (and where) I was so 
taken : at the age of 20, though I look younger, 
and at a time when I had had an accident (an 
injury to my back,) and was rather sick and sorry. 



AST. 59 TO MRS. FRANK MATHEWS 415 

I look rather as if I wanted propping up. But 
you have propped me up, now, handsomely 
for all time, and I feel that I shall go down so 
to the remotest posterity. There is a great 
Titian, you know, at the Louvre Vhomme au 
gant ; but I, in my gloved gentleness, shall run 
him close. All thanks again, then : you have 
renewed my youth for me and diverted my 
antiquity and I really, as they say, fancy myself, 
and am yours, my dear Mary, very constantly, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To W. D. Howells. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
December llth, 1902. 
My dear Howells, 

Nothing more delightful, or that has 
touched me more closely, even to the spring of 
tears, has befallen me for years, literally, than 
to receive your beautiful letter of Nov. 30th, 
so largely and liberally anent The W. of the D. 
Every word of it goes to my heart and to " thank " 
you for it seems a mere grimace. The same 
post brought me a letter from dear John Hay, 
so that my measure has been full. I haven't 
known anything about the American " notices," 
heaven save the mark ! any more than about 
those here (which I am told, however, have been 
remarkably genial ;) so that I have not had the 
sense of confrontation with a public more than 
usually childish I mean had it in any special 
way. I confess, however, that that is my 
chronic sense the more than usual childishness 
of publics : and it is (has been,) in my mind, 
long since discounted, and my work definitely 
insists upon being independent of such phantasms 
and on unfolding itself wholly from its own 
" innards." Of course, in our conditions, doing 



416 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1902 

anything decent is pure disinterested, unsup- 
ported, unrewarded heroism ; but that's in the 
day's work. The faculty of attention has utterly 
vanished from the general anglo-saxon mind, 
extinguished at its source by the big blatant 
Bayadere of Journalism, of the newspaper and 
the picture (above all) magazine ; who keeps 
screaming " Look at me, I am the thing, and I 
only, the thing that will keep you in relation 
with me all the time without your having to 
attend one minute of the time." If you are 
moved to write anything anywhere about the 
W. of the D. do say something of that it so 
awfully wants saying. But we live in a lovely 
age for literature or for any art but the mere 
visual. Illustrations, loud simplifications and 
grossissements, the big building (good for John,) 
the " mounted " play, the prose that is careful 
to be in the tone of, and with the distinction 
of, a newspaper or bill-poster advertisement 
these, and these only, meseems, " stand a chance." 
But why do I talk of such chances ? I am 
melted at your reading en famille The Sacred 
Fount, which you will. I fear, have found chaff in 
the mouth and which is one of several things 
of mine, in these last years, that have paid the 
penalty of having been conceived only as the 
" short story " that (alone, apparently) I could 
hope to work off somewhere (which I mainly 
failed of,) and then grew by a rank force of its 
own into something of which the idea had, 
modestly, never been to be a book. That is 
essentially the case with the S.F., planned, like 
The Spoils of Poynton, What Maisie Knew, The 
Turn of the Screw, and various others, as a 
story of the " 8 to 10 thousand words " ! ! and 
then having accepted its bookish necessity or 
destiny in consequence of becoming already, 
at the start, 20,000, accepted it ruefully and 



AET. 69 TO W. D. HOWELLS 417 

blushingly, moreover, since, given the tenuity 
of the idea, the larger quantity of treatment 
hadn't been aimed at. I remember how I 
would have " chucked " The Sacred Fount at 
the 15th thousand word, if in the first place I 
could have afforded to " waste " 15,000, and if 
in the second I were not always ridden by a 
superstitious terror of not finishing, for finishing's 
and for the precedent's sake, what I have begun. 
I am a fair coward about dropping, and the book 
in question, I fear, is, more than anything else, 
a monument to that superstition. When, if it 
meets my eye, I say to myself, " You know you 
might not have finished it," I make the remark 
not in natural reproach, but, I confess, in craven 
relief. . . . 

Your visit to Cambridge makes me yearn a 
little, and your watching over it with C. N. and 
your sitting in it with Grace. Did the ghost 
of other walks (I'm told Fresh Pond is no longer 
a Pond, or no longer Fresh, only stale, or some- 
thing) ever brush you with the hem of its soft 
shroud ? Haven't you lately published some 
volume of Literary Essays or Portraits (since 
the Heroines of Fiction) and won't you, muni- 
ficently, send me either that or the Heroines 
neither of which have sprung up in my here so 
rustic path ? I will send you in partial payment 
another book of mine to be published on February 
27th. 

Good-night, with renewed benedictions on your 
house and your spirit. 

Yours always and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



2D 



418 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

To Madame Paul Bourget. 

The * heavenly-blue volumes' were those of the col- 
lected edition of M. Paul Bourget 's works, which he was 
sending to H. J. as they appeared. The book promised 
to Madame Bourget in return was The Better Sort. The 
'high-walled Eden,' M. Bourget's villa at Hyeres, is 
described above (p. 324) in a letter written when H. J. 
was himself a guest there. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

January 5th, 1903. 
Dear Madame Paul, 

Very welcome, very delightful, to me your 
kind New Year's message, and meeting a solici- 
tude (for news of you both) which was as a 
shadow across my (not very glowing indeed) 
Christmas hearth. Your note finds me still 
incorrigibly rustic ; I have been spending here 
the most solitary Christmas-tide of my life 
(absolutely solitary) and I have not, for long 
months, been further from home than for an 
occasional day or two in London. I go there 
on the 10th to remain till May ; but I am sorry 
to say I see little hope of my being able to pere- 
grinate to far Provence all benignant though 
your invitation be. We must meet some time ! 
again in the loved Italy ; but I blush, almost, 
to say it, when I have to say at the same time 
that my present prospect of that bliss is of the 
smallest. I long unspeakably to go back there 
before I descend into the dark deep tomb for a 
long visit (of upwards of a year) ; yet it proves 
more difficult for me than it ought, or than it 
looks, and, in short, I oughtn't to speak of it 
again save to announce it as definite. Unfortun- 
ately I also want to return for a succession of 
months to the land of my birth also in antici- 
pation of the tomb ; and the one doesn't help 



AET. 59 TO MADAME PAUL BOURGET 419 

the other. Europe has ceased to be romantic 
to me, and my own country, in the evening of 
my days, has become so ; but this senile passion 
too is perhaps condemned to remain platonic. 
Bourget's benevolence continues to shine on me, 
his generosity to descend, in the form of heavenly- 
blue volumes, the grave smile of my dull library 
shelves, for which I blush that I make so meagre 
returns. I shall send you a volume in February, 
but it will have no such grande allure ; though 
the best thing in it will be a little story of which 
you gave me long ago, at Torquay, the motive, 
and which I will mark. I congratulate you on 
not being absentees from your high-walled or 
much-walled Eden, and I hope it means a 
happy distillation for Bourget and much health 
and peace for both of you. May you have a 
mild and merciful year ! Deserve it by con- 
tinuing to have patience tous les deux with 
your very faithful (and very inky) old friend, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Mrs. Waldo Story. 

The book to which the following refers is of course 
William Wetmore Story and his Friends, published in 1903. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Jan. 6th, 1903. 
Dear Mrs. Waldo, 

Let my first word be to ask you to pardon 
this vulgar machinery and this portentous legi- 
bility : the fruit of dictation, in the first place 
(now made absolutely necessary to me ;) and 
the fruit, in the second place, of the fact that, 
pegging away as I am at present, in your interest 
and Waldo's (and with the end of our business 
now, I am happy to say, well in sight), I so live, 
as it were, from day to day and from hour to 



420 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1003 

hour, by the aid of this mechanism, that it is an 
effort to me to break with it even for my corre- 
spondence. I had promised myself to write 
you so that you should receive my letter on the 
very Capo d'Anno ; and if I had then overcome 
my scruple as to launching at you a dictated 
thing, you would some time ere this have been in 
possession of my news. I have delayed till 
now, because I was every day hoping to catch 
the right moment to address you a page or two 
of my own proper hieroglyphics. But one's 
Christmas-tide burden (of writing) here is heavy ; 
I didn't snatch the moment ; and this is a brave 
precaution lest it should again elude me ; which, 
in the interest of lucidity, please again forgive. 

So much as that about a minor matter. The 
more important one is that, as you will both be 
glad to know, I have (in spite of a most damnable 
interruption of several weeks, this autumn, a 
detested compulsion to attend, for the time, to 
something else) got on so straight with the Book 
that three quarters of it are practically written, 
and four or five weeks more will see me, I cal- 
culate, at the end of the matter. . . . All the 
material I received from you has been of course 
highly useful indispensable ; yet, none the less, 
all of it put together was not material for a 
Biography pure and simple. The subject itself 
didn't lend itself to that, in the strict sense of 
the word ; and I had to make out, for myself, 
what my material did lend itself to. I have, I 
think, made out successfully and happily ; if I 
haven't, at any rate, it has not been for want 
of a great expenditure of zeal, pains, taste 
(though I say it who shouldn't !) and talent ! 
But the Book will, without doubt, be an agree- 
able and, in a literary sense, really artistic and 
honourable one. I shall not have made you 
all so patiently, amiably, admirably wait so long 



AET. 59 TO MRS. WALDO STORY 421 

for nothing. ... I have looked at the picture, 
as it were, given me by all your material, as a 
picture the image or evocation, charming, hetero- 
geneous, and a little ghostly, of a great cluster 
of people, a society practically extinct, with 
Mr. and Mrs. Story, naturally, all along, the 
centre, the pretext, so to speak, and the point 
d'appui. This course was the only one open 
to me it was imposed with absolute logic. 
The Book was not makeable at all unless I used 
the letters of other people, and the letters of 
other people were useable with effect only so 
far as I could more or less evoke and present 
the other people. . . . 

But I am writing you at hideous length and 
crowding out all space for matters more personal 
to ourselves. When once the Book is out I 
shall want, I shall need, exceedingly, to see you 
all ; and I don't think that, unless some morbid 
madness settles on me-, I shall fear to. But that 
is arrangeable and shall be arranged. . . . My 
blessing on all of you. 

Yours, dear Mrs. Waldo, most faithfully, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To W. D. Howells. 

The Ambassadors began at length to appear in the North 
American Review, January 1903, where it ran throughout 
the year. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

Jan. 8th, 1903. 
My dear Howells, 

Let me beg you first of all not to be 
disconcerted by this chill legibility. I want to 
write to you to-day, immediately, your delightful 
letter of Dec. 29th having arrived this morning, 
and I can only manage it by dictation as I am, 



422 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

in consequence of some obscure indiscretion of 
diet yesterday, temporarily sick, sorry, and 
seedy ; so that I can only loll, rather listless 
(but already better of my poison), in an arm- 
chair. My feelings don't permit me to wait 
to tell you that the communication I have just 
had from you surpasses for pure unadulterated 
charm any communication I have ever received. 
I am really quite overcome and weakened by 
your recital of the generous way in which you 
threw yourself into the scale of the arrangement, 
touching my so long unserialized serial, which 
is manifestly so excellent a thing for me. I 
had begun to despair of anything, when, abruptly, 
this brightens the view. For I like, extremely, 
the place the N.A.R. makes for my novel ; it 
meets quite my ideal in respect to that isolation 
and relief one has always fondly conceived as 
the proper due of one's productions, and yet 
never, amid the promiscuous petticoats and other 
low company of the usual magazine table- of - 
contents, seen them in the remotest degree 
attended with. One had dreamed, in private 
fatuity, that one would really be the better 
for " standing out " a little ; but one had, to 
one's own sense, never really " stood " at all, 
but simply lain very flat, for the petticoats 
and all the foolish feet aforesaid to trample 
over with the best conscience in the world. 
Charming to me also is the idea of your own 
beneficent paper in the same quarter the com- 
plete detachment of which, however, from the 
current fiction itself I equally apprehend and 
applaud : just as I see how the (not-to-be- 
qualified) editorial mind would indulge one of 
its most characteristic impulses by suggesting 
a connection. Never mind suggestions and how 
you echo one of the most sacred laws of my own 
effort toward wisdom in not caring to know 



. 59 TO W. D. HOWELLS 423 

the source of that one ! I care to know nothing 
but that your relation to my stuff, as it stands, 
gives me clear joy. Within a couple of days, 
moreover, your three glorious volumes of illus- 
trated prose have arrived to enrich my existence, 
adorn my house and inflame my expectations. 
With many things pressing upon me at this 
moment as preliminary to winding-up here and 
betaking myself, till early in the summer, to 
London, my more penetrative attention has 
not yet been free for them ; but I am gathering 
for the swoop. Please meanwhile be tenderly 
thanked for the massive and magnificent character 
of the gift. What a glorious quantity of work 
it brings home to me that you do ! I feel like 
a hurdy-gurdy man listening outside a cathedral 
to the volume of sound poured forth there by 
the enthroned organist. . . . But good-night, my 
dear Howells, with every feebly-breathed, but 
forcibly-felt good wish of yours always and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To William James. 

The special business that H. J. hints at in connexion with 
his projected visit to America was to be the arrangement 
for a collected edition of his works, a scheme that was now 
beginning to take shape. With regard to another allusion 
in this letter, it may be said that the threatened destruction 
of the old cottages, a few yards from Lamb House, was 
averted. 

Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

May 24th, 1903. 
Dearest William, 

How much I feel in arrears with you let 
this gross machinery testify which I shame- 
lessly use to help to haul myself into line. How- 
ever, you have most beneficently, from of old, 



424 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

given me free licence for it. Other benefits, 
unacknowledged as yet, have I continued to 
receive from you : I think I've been silent 
even since before your so cheering (about your- 
self) letter from Ashville, followed, a few days 
before I left town (which I did five days ago), 
by your still more interesting and important 
one (of May 3d) in answer to mine dealing (so 
tentatively !) with the question of my making 
plans, so far as complicatedly and remotely 
possible, for going over to you for 6 or 8 months. 
There is and there was when I wrote no 
conceivability of my doing this for a year at 
least to come before August 1904, at nearest ; 
but it kind of eases my mind to thresh the idea 
out sufficiently to have a direction to tend to 
meanwhile, and an aim to work at. It is in 
fact a practical necessity for me, des maintenant, 
to know whether or no I absolutely want to go 
if, and when, I can : such a difference in many 
ways (more than I need undertake to explain) 
do the prospect of going and the prospect of 
not going make. Luckily, for myself, I do 
already (as I feel) quite adequately remain 
convinced that I shall want to whenever I can : 
that is [if] I don't put it off for much more 
than a year after which period I certainly 
shall lose the impulse to return to my birth-place 
under the mere blight of incipient senile decay. 
If I go at all I must go before I'm too old, and, 
above all, before I mind being older. You are 
very dissuasive even more than I expected ; 
but I think it comes from your understanding 
even less than I expected the motives, considera- 
tions, advisabilities etc., that have gradually, 
cumulatively, and under much study of the 
question, much carefully invoked light on it, 
been acting upon me. I won't undertake just 
now to tell you what all these reasons are, and 



AET. GO TO WILLIAM JAMES 425 

how they show to me for there is still plenty 
of time to do that. Only I may even at present 
say that I don't despair of bringing you round 
in the interval (if what is beyond the interval 
can realise itself) to a better perception of my 
situation. It is, roughly and you will perhaps 
think too cryptically speaking, a situation for 
which 6 or 8 months in my native land shine 
before me as a very possible and profitable 
remedy : and I don't speak not by book. Simply 
and supinely to shrink on mere grounds of 
general fear and encouraged shockability has 
to me all the air of giving up, chucking away 
without a struggle, the one chance that remains 
to me in life of anything that can be called a 
movement : my one little ewe-lamb of possible 
exotic experience, such experience as may convert 
itself, through the senses, through observation, 
imagination and reflection now at their maturity, 
into vivid and solid material, into a general 
renovation of one's too monotonised grab-bag. 
You speak of the whole matter rather, it seems 
to me, " a votre aise " ; you make, comparatively, 
and have always made, so many movements ; 
you have travelled and gone to and fro always 
comparatively ! so often and so much. I have 
practically never travelled at all having never 
been economically able to ; I've only gone, 
for short periods, a few times so much fewer 
than I've wanted to Italy : never anywhere 
else that I've seen every one about me here (who 
is, or was, anyone) perpetually making for. 
These visions I've had, one by one, all to give 
up Spain, Greece, Sicily, any glimpse of the 
East, or in fact of anything ; even to the extent 
of rummaging about in France ; even to the 
extent of trudging about, a little, in Switzer- 
land. Counting out my few dips into Italy, 
there has been no time at which any " abroad ' : 



426 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1003 

was financially convenient or possible. And 
now, more and more, all such adventures pre- 
sent themselves in the light of mere agreeable 
luxuries, expensive and supererogatory, inasmuch 
as not resolving themselves into new material or 
assimilating with my little acquired stock, my 
accumulated capital of (for convenience) " inter- 
national " items and properties. There's nothing 
to be done, by me, any more, in the way of 
writing, de chic, little worthless, superficial, poncif 
articles about Spain, Greece, or Egypt. They 
are the sort of thing that doesn't work in at all 
to what now most interests me : which is human 
Anglo-Saxonism, with the American extension, 
or opportunity for it, so far as it may be given 
me still to work the same. If I shouldn't, in 
other words, bring off going to the U.S., it would 
simply mean giving up, for the remainder of my 
days, all chance of such experience as is repre- 
sented by interesting " travel " and which in 
this special case of my own would be much more 
than so represented (granting the travel to be 
American.) I should settle down to a mere 
mean oscillation from here to London and from 
London here with nothing (to speak of) left, 
more, to happen to me in life in the way of (the 
poetry of) motion. That spreads before me as 
for mind, imagination, special, " professional " 
labour, a thin, starved, lonely, defeated, beaten, 
prospect : in comparison with which your own 
circumgyrations have been as the adventures 
of Marco Polo or H.M. Stanley. I should like 
to think of going once or twice more again, 
for a sufficient number of months, to Italy, 
where I know my ground sufficiently to be able 
to plan for such quiet work there as might be 
needfully involved. But the day is past when 
I can " write " stories about Italy with a mind 
otherwise pre-occupied. My native land, which 



AET. GO TO WILLIAM JAMES 427 

time, absence and change have, in a funny sort 
of way, made almost as romantic to me as 
" Europe," in dreams or in my earlier time here, 
used to be the actual bristling (as fearfully 
bristling as you like) U.S.A. have the merit 
and the precious property that they meet and 
fit into my (" creative ") preoccupations ; and 
that the period there which should represent 
the poetry of motion, the one big taste of travel 
not supremely missed, would carry with it also 
possibilities of the prose of production (that is 
of the production of prose) such as no other 
mere bought, paid for, sceptically and half- 
heartedly worried-through adventure, by land 
or sett, would be able to give me. My primary 
idea in the matter is absolutely economic and 
on a basis that I can't make clear to you now, 
though I probably shall be able to later on if 
you demand it : that is if you also are accessible 
to the impression of my having any " professional 
standing " la-bas big enough to be improved 
on. I am not thinking (I'm sure) vaguely or 
blindly (but recognising direct intimations) when 
I take for granted some such Chance as my 
personal presence there would conduce to im- 
prove : I don't mean by its beauty or brilliancy, 
but simply by the benefit of my managing for 
once in my life not to fail to be on the spot. 
Your allusion to an American [agent] as all 
sufficient for any purpose I could entertain 
doesn't, for me, begin to cover the ground 
which is antecedent to that altogether. It isn't 
in the least a question of my trying to make 
old copy-rights pay better or look into arrange- 
ments actually existing; it's a question well, 
of too much more than I can go into the detail 
of now (or, much rather, into the general and 
comprehensive truth of) ; or even than I can ever 
do, so long as I only have from you Doubt. What 



428 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 190* 

you say of the Eggs (! ! !), of the Vocalisation, 
of the Shocks in general, and of everything else, 
is utterly beside the mark it being absolutely 
for all that class of phenomena, and every other 
class, that I nurse my infatuation. I want to 
see them, I want to see everything. I want to 
see the Country (scarcely a bit New York and 
Boston, but intensely the Middle and Far West 
and California and the South) in cadres as 
complete, and immeasurably more mature than 
those of the celebrated Taine when he went, 
early in the sixties, to Italy for six weeks, in 
order to write his big book. Moreover, besides 
the general " professional " I have thus a con- 
ception of, have really in definite view, dhere 
hangs before me a very special other probability 
which, however, I must ask you to take on 
trust, if you can, as it would be a mistake for me 
to bruit it at all abroad as yet. To make anything 
of this last-mentioned business I must be on the 
spot I mean not only to carry the business 
out, of course, but to arrange in advance its 
indispensable basis. It would be the last of 
follies for me to attempt to do that from here 
I should simply spoil my chance. So you see 
what it all comes to, roughly stated that the 
6 or 8 months in question are all I have to look 
to unless I give up the prospect of ever stirring 
again. They are the only " stir " I shall ever 
be able to afford, because, though they will 
cost something, cost even a good bit, they will 
bring in a great deal more, in proportion, than 
they will cost. Anything else (other than a 
mere repeated and too aridly Anglo-American 
winter in Florence, perhaps, say) would almost 
only cost. But enough of all this I am saying, 
have said, much more than I meant to say at 
the present date. Let it, at any rate, simmer 
in your mind, if your mind has any room for it, 



AET. 60 TO WILLIAM JAMES 429 

and take time, above all, if there is any danger 
of your still replying adversely. Let me add 
this word more, however, that I mention August 
1904 very advisedly. If I want (and it's half 
the battle) to go to the West and South, and 
even, dreamably, to Mexico, I [could not] do 
these things during that part of the summer 
during which (besides feeling, I fear, very ill 
from the heat) I should simply have to sit still. 
On the other hand I should like immensely not 
to fail of coming in for the whole American 
autumn, and like hugely, in especial, to arrive 
in time for the last three or four weeks of your 
stay in Chocorua which I suppose I should 
do if I quitted this by about mid- August. Then 
I should have the music of toute la lyre, coming 
away after, say, three or four Spring weeks at 
Washington, the next April or May. But I 
must stop. These castles in Spain all hang by 
the thread of my finding myself in fact economi- 
cally able, 14 months hence, to face the music. 
If I am not, the whole thing must drop. All I 
can do meanwhile is to try and arrange that I 
shall be. I am scared, rather well in advance 
by the vision of American expenses. But the 
46 special " possibility that shines before me has 
the virtue of covering (potentially) all that. 
One thing is very certain I shall not be able 
to hoard by " staying " with people. This will 
be impossible to me (though I will, assuredly, 
by a rich and rare exception, dedicate to you 
and Alice as many days as you will take me 
in for, whether in country or town.) Basta ! 

I talk of your having room in mind, but you must 
be having at the present moment little enough 
for anything save your Emerson speech, which 
you are perhaps now, for all I know, in the very 
act of delivering. This morning's Times has, 
in its American despatch, an account of the 



430 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

beginning, either imminent or actual, of the 
Commemoration and I suppose your speech 
is to be uttered at Concord. Would to God I 
could sit there entranced by your accents side 
by side, I suppose, with the genial Bob ! May 
you be floated grandly over your cataract by 
which I don't mean have any manner of fall, 
but only be a Niagara of eloquence, all con- 
tinuously, whether above or below the rapids. 
You will send me, I devoutly hope, some report 
of the whole thing. It affects me much even 
at this distance and in this so grossly alien air 
this overt dedication of dear old Emerson to his 
immortality. I hope all the attendant circum- 
stances will be graceful and beautiful. I came 
back hither, as I believe I have mentioned, 
some six days ago, after some 18 weeks in London, 
which went, this time, very well, and were very 
easy, on my present extremely convenient basis, 
to manage. The Spring here, till within a week, 
has been backward and blighted ; but Summer 
has arrived at last with a beautiful jump, and 
Rye is quite adorable in its outbreak of greenery 
and blossom. I never saw it more lovely than 
yesterday, a supreme summer (early summer) 
Sunday. The dear little charm of the place 
at such times consoles me for the sordid van- 
dalisms that are rapidly disfiguring and that I 
fear will soon quite destroy it. Another scare 
for me just now is the threatened destruction 
of the two little charmingly- antique silver-grey 
cottages on the right of the little vista that 
stretches from my door to the church the two 
that you may remember just beyond my garden 
wall, and in one of which my gardener has lately 
been living. They will be replaced, if destroyed, 
by a pair of hideous cheap modern workingman's 
cottages a horrid inhuman stab at the very 
heart of old Rye. There is a chance it may be 



. 60 TO WILLIAM JAMES 431 

still averted but only just a bare chance. One 
would buy them, in a moment, to save them 
and to save one's little prospect ; but one is, 
naturally, quite helpless for that, and the price 
asked is impudently outrageous, quite of the 
blackmailing order. On the other hand, let 
me add, I'm gradually consoling myself now for 
having been blackmailed in respect to purchase 
of the neighbouring garden I wrote you of. Now 
that I have got it and feel the value of the pro- 
tection, my greater peace seems almost worth 
the imposition. This, however, is all my news 
except that I have just acquired by purchase a 
very beautiful and valuable little Dachshund 
pup of the " red " species, who has been promising 
to be the joy of my life up to a few hours since 
when he began to develop a mysterious and 
increasing tumification of one side of his face, 
about which I must immediately have advice. 
The things my dogs have, and the worries I have 
in consequence ! I already see this one settled 
beneath monumental alabaster in the little 
cemetery in the angle of my garden, where he 
will make the fifth. I have heard, most happily, 
from Billy at Marburg. He seems to fall every- 
where blessedly on his feet. But you will know 
as much, and more, about him than I. I am 
already notching off the days till I hope to have 
him here in August. I count on his then staying 
through September. But good-bye, with every 
fond vceu. I delight in the news of Aleck's 
free wild life and also of Peggy's (which the 
accounts of her festivities, feathers and frills, 
in a manner reproduce for me.) Tender love to 
Alice. I embrace you all and am always yours, 

HENRY JAMES. 



432 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

To Miss Violet Hunt. 
Dictated. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Aug. 26th, 1903. 

Dear Violet Hunt, 

I am very backward with you, being in 
receipt of more than one unanswered com- 
munication. Please set this down to many 
things ; not least my having, ever since you were 
here, been carrying on uninterruptedly a small 
but crowded hotel. ... I have still, all the 
same, to thank you for the photographs of the 
admirable little niece, one of which, the one 
with the hat, I retain, sending the other back 
to you if not by this very post, then, at least, 
by the very next. Both are very pleasing, 
but no photograph does much more than rather 
civilly extinguish the life and bloom (so ex- 
quisite a thing) in a happy child's face. Also 
came the Shakespeare-book back with your 
accompanying letter for which also thanks, 
but to which I can't now pretend to reply. You 
rebound lightly, I judge, from any pressure 
exerted on you by the author but / don't 
rebound : I am " a sort of ' ' haunted by the 
conviction that the divine William is the biggest 
and most successful fraud ever practised on a 
patient world. The more I turn him round 
and round the more he so affects me. But that 
is all I am not pretending to treat the question 
or to carry it any further. It bristles with 
difficulties, and I can only express my general 
sense by saying that I find it almost as impossible 
to conceive that Bacon wrote the plays as to 
conceive that the man from Stratford, as we 
know the man from Stratford, did. 

For the rest, I have been trying to sit tight and 



A*T. eo TO MISS VIOLET HUNT 433 

get on with work that has been much retarded, 
these two months, and much interrupted and 
blighted. ... I hope you will be able to give 
me, when we next meet, as good an account 
of your adventures and emotions. I have taken 
again the liberty of this machinery with you, 
for having broken in your great amiability I 
don't want to waste my advantage. Wherever 
you are, buon divertimento I I really hope for 
you that you are in town, which has resources 
and defences against this execrable August that 
the bare bosom of Nature, as we mainly know 
it here, sadly lacks. 

Believe me yours always, 

HENRY JAMES. 



To W. E. Norris. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
September 17th, 1903. 
My dear Norris, 

Your letter from the unpronounceable 
Japanese steamer is magnificent so magnificent, 
so appreciated and so felt, that it really almost 
has an effect contrary to the case it incidentally 
urges the effect of undermining my due dis- 
position to write to you ! Your adventures 
by land and sea, your commerce with the great 
globe, your grand imperial and cosmic life, 
hover before me on your admirable page to make 
me ask what you can possibly want of the small 
beer of any chronicle of mine. My " beer," 
always, to my sense, of the smallest, sinks to 
positively ignoble dregs in the presence of your 
splendid record of which I think also I am even 
moved to a certain humiliated jealousy. " All 
this and heaven too ? " all this and letters 
from Lamb House, Rye, into the bargain ? 
That slightly sore sense has in fact been at the 



434 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

bottom of my failure to write to you altogether 
that and a wholly blank mind as to where to 
address, catch or otherwise waylay you. Frankly, 
really, I seemed to imagine you out of tune (very 
naturally and inevitably) with our dull lives 
and only saying to yourself that you would 
have quite enough of them on getting back to 
them and finding them creep along as tamely 
as ever. Let me hasten to add that I now rejoice 
to learn that you have actually missed the 
sound of my voice, the scratch of my poor pen, 
and I "sit down " as promptly, almost, as you 
enjoin, to prepare a message which shall overtake 
you, or meet you somewhere. May it not have 
failed of this before we (you sternly, I guiltily) 
are confronted ! Your appeal, scented with all 
the spices of the East and the airs of the Anti- 
podes, arrived in fact four or five days ago, 
and would have had my more instant attention 
if the world, in these days, the small world of 
my tiny point on the globe, were not incon- 
veniently and oppressively with me, making 
great holes in my all too precious, my all too 
hoarded and shrunken treasure of Time. We 
have had an execrable, an infamous summer of 
rain endless rain and wild wintry tempest (the 
very worst of my long lifetime ;) but it has not 
in the least stayed the circulation of my country- 
people (in particular,) and I have been running 
a small crammed and wholly unlucrative hotel 
for their benefit, without interruption, ever since 
I returned here from London the middle of May. 
As I have to run it, socially and personally speak- 
ing, all unaided and alone, I am always in the 
breach, and my fond dream of this place as a 
little sheltered hermitage is exposed to rude 
shocks. I am just now, in short, receiving a 
fresh shock every day, and the end is so far 
from being in sight that the rest of this month 



AET. 60 TO W. E. NORRIS 435 

and the replete form of October loom before me 
as truly formidable. This once comparatively 
quiet corner has, it is impossible to doubt, quite 
changed its convenient little character since I 
first knew and adopted it, and has become, 
for the portion of the year for which I most so 
prized it, a vulgarly bustling rendezvous of in- 
discreet and inferior people. (I don't so qualify 
my own visitors, poor dears but the total effect 
of these harried and haunted months, whereof 
the former golden air has been turned to tinkling 
brass. It all makes me glad I am old, and thereby 
soon to take leave of a world in which one is 
driven, unoffending, from pillar to post.) You 
see I don't pretend to take up your wondrous 
tale or to treat you to responsive echoes and 
ejaculations. It will be delightful to do so 
when we meet again and I can ask you face to 
face the thousand questions that your story 
calls to my lips. Let me even now and thus, 
however, congratulate you with all my heart 
on such a fine bellyfull of raw (and other) material 
as your so varied and populated experience 
must have provided you withal. You have had 
to ingurgitate a bigger dose of salt water than I 
should personally care for, and I don't directly 
wish that any of your opportunities should have 
been mine so wholly, with the lack of means to 
move, has the appetite for movement abandoned 
my aged carcass. But I applaud and enjoy 
the sight of these high energies in those who are 
capable and worthy of them, and distinctly 
like to think that there are quasi-contemporaries 
of longer wind (and purse,) and of stouter heart 
than mine though I am planning at last to go 
to the U.S. (for the first time for 21 years) next 
summer, and remain there some 6 or 8 months. 
(But there is time to talk of this.) . . . . Your 
letter is full of interesting things that I can, 

2E2 



436 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

however, send back to you no echo of since if 
I do I shall still be writing it when you get back, 
and you will come and look at it over my shoulder. 
Interesting above all your hints of your con- 
victions or impressions or whatever, about the 
great colonial question and the great Joseph's 
probable misadventure as to which I find it 
utterly impossible to have a competent opinion. 
I have nothing but an obscure and superstitious 
sense that this country's " fiscal " attitude and 
faith has for the last half century been superior 
and distinguished, and that the change proposed 
to her reeks, probably, with political and 
economical vulgarity. But that way, just now, 
madness lies you will find plenty of it when you 
get back. As to the probable date of that event 
you give me no hint, but I look forward to your 
return with an eager appetite for your high 
exotic flavour, which please do everything further 
possible, meanwhile, to intensify : unless indeed 
the final effort of everything shall have been (as 
I shrewdly suspect) to make you more brutally 
British. You will even then, anyway, be an 
exceedingly welcome reappearance to yours always 
and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Howard Sturgis. 

The proof-sheets in question were those of Mr. Sturgis's 
forthcoming novel, Belchamber. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

November 8th, 1903. 
My dear Howard, 

I send you back the blooming proofs 
with my thanks and with no marks or comments 
at all. In the first place there are none, of 
the marginal kind, to make, and in the second 
place it is too late to make them if there were. 



A ET . eo TO HOWARD STURGIS 437 

The thing goes on very solidly and smoothly, 
interesting and amusing as it moves, very well 
written, well felt, well composed, well written 
perhaps in particular. I am a bad person, 
really, to expose " fictitious work ' : to I, as 
a battered producer and " technician " myself, 
have long since inevitably ceased to read with 
naivete ; I can only read critically, construc- 
tively, /-^constructively, writing the thing over 
(if I can swallow it at all) my way, and looking 
at it, so to speak, from within. But even 
thus I " pass " your book very tenderly ! 
There is only one thing that, as a matter of 
detail, I am moved to say which is that I 
feel you have a great deal increased your diffi- 
culty by screwing up the " social position " 
of all your people so very high. When a 
man is an English Marquis, even a lame one, 
there are whole masses of Marquisate things 
and items, a multitude of inherent detail in 
his existence, which it isn't open to the painter 
de gaiete de cceur not to make some picture of. 
And yet if I mention this because it is the place 
where people will challenge you, and to suggest 
to you therefore to expect it if I do so I am 
probably after all quite wrong. No one notices 
or understands anything, and no one will make 
a single intelligent or intelligible observation 
about your work. They will make plenty of 
others. What I applaud is your sticking to the 
real line and centre of your theme the con- 
sciousness and view of Sainty himself, and your 
dealing with things, with the whole fantas- 
magoria, as presented to him only, not otherwise 
going behind them. 

And also I applaud, dearest Howard, your 
expression of attachment to him who holds 
this pen (and passes it at this moment over 
very dirty paper :) for he is extremely accessible 



438 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

to such demonstrations and touched by them 
more than ever in his lonely (more than) maturity. 
Keep it up as hard as possible ; continue to pass 
your hand into my arm and believe that I always 
like greatly to feel it. We are two who can 
communicate freely. 

I send you back also Temple Bar, in which I 
have found your paper a moving and charming 
thing, waking up the pathetic ghost only too 
effectually. The ancient years and images that 
I too more or less remember swarm up and 
vaguely moan round about one like Banshees 
or other mystic and melancholy presences. It's 
all a little mystic and melancholy to me here 
when I am quite alone, as I more particularly 
am after " grand " company has come and gone. 
You are essentially grand company, and felt 
as such and the subsidence is proportionally 
flat. But I took a long walk with Max this 
grey still Sabbath afternoon have indeed taken 
one each day, and am possessed of means, thank 
goodness, to make the desert (of being quite 
to myself) blossom like the rose. 

Good-night it's 12.30, the clock ticks loud 
and Max snoozes audibly in the armchair I 
lately vacated. . . . Yours, my dear Howard, 
always and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 

To Henry Adams. 

Henry Adams, the well-known American historian, was 
a friend of long standing. The following refers to H. J.'s 
recently published W. W. Story and his Friends. 

Lamb House, Rye. 

November 19, 1903. 
My dear Adams, 

I am so happy at hearing from you at 
all that the sense of the particular occasion of 



AET. 60 TO HENRY ADAMS 439 

my doing so is almost submerged and smothered. 
You did bravely well to write make a note 
of the act, for your future career, as belonging 
to a class of impulses to be precipitately obeyed, 
and, if possible, even tenderly nursed. Yet it 
has been interesting, exceedingly, in the narrower 
sense, as well as delightful in the larger, to have 
your letter, with its ingenious expression of the 
effects on you of poor W. W. S. with whom, 
and the whole business of whom, there is (yes, 
I can see !) a kind of inevitableness in my having 
made you squirm or whatever is the proper 
name for the sensation engendered in you ! 
Very curious, and even rather terrible, this so 
far-reaching action of a little biographical vivid- 
ness which did indeed, in a manner, begin 
with me, myself, even as I put the stuff together 
though putting me to conclusions less grim, 
as I may call them, than in your case. The 
truth is that any retraced story of bourgeois 
lives (lives other than great lives of " action " 
et encore !) throws a chill upon the scene, the 
time, the subject, the small mapped- out facts, 
and if you find " great men thin " it isn't really 
so much their fault (and least of all yours) as 
that the art of the biographer devilish art ! 
is somehow practically thinning. It simplifies 
even while seeking to enrich and even the 
Immortal are so helpless and passive in death. 
The proof is that I wanted to invest dull old 
Boston with a mellow, a golden glow and that 
for those who know, like yourself, I only make 
it bleak and weak ! Luckily those who know 
are indeed but three or four and they won't, 
I hope, too promiscuously tell .... 

Yours, my dear Adams, always and ever, 

HENRY JAMES. 



440 LETTERS OF HENRY JAMES 1903 

To Sir George O. Trevelyan. 

The second part of Sir George Trevelyan's American 
Revolution had just appeared at this time. 

Lamb House, Rye. 
Nov. 25th, 1903. 

Dear Sir George, 

I should be a poor creature if I had 
read your two last volumes without feeling the 
liveliest desire to write to you. That is the 
desire you must have kindled indeed in more 
quarters than you will care to reckon with ; 
but even this reflection doesn't stay my pen, 
save to make me parenthise that I should be 
absolutely distressed to receive from you any 
acknowledgment of these few lines 

This new instalment of your admirable book 
has held me so tight, from chapter to chapter, 
that it is as if I were hanging back from mere 
force of appreciation, and yet I found myself, 
as I read, vibrating responsively, in so many 
different ways, that my emotions carried me 
at the same time all over the place. You of 
course know far better than I how you have 
dealt with your material ; but I doubt whether 
you know what a work of civilization you are 
perpetrating internationally by the very fact 
of your producing so exquisite a work of art. 
The American, the Englishman, the artist, and 
the critic in me to say nothing of the friend ! 
all drink you down in a deep draught, each in 
turn feeling that he is more deeply concerned. 
But it is of course, as with the other volume, 
the book's being so richly and authoritatively 
English, so validly true, and yet so projected 
as it were into the American consciousness, 
that will help to build the bridge across the 
Atlantic ; and I think it is the mystery of this 
large fusion, carried out in so many ways, that 



AET. 60 TO SIR GEORGE O. TREVELYAN 441 

makes the thing so distinguished a work of art ; 
yet who shall say, so familiarly when a thing 
is such a work of art I mean who shall say how 
it has, by a thousand roads, got itself made so ? 
It is this literary temperament of your work, 
this beautiful quality of composition, and feeling 
of the presentation, grasping reality all the while, 
and controlling and playing with the detail, 
it is this in our chattering and slobbering day 
that gives me the sense of the ampler tread 
and deeper voice of the man in fact of his 
speaking in his own voice at all, or moving with 
his own step. You will make my own country 
people touch as with reverence the hem of his 
garment ; but I think that I most envy you 
your having such a method at all your being 
able to see so many facts and yet to see them 
each, imaged and related and lighted, as a 
painter sees the objects, together, that are 
before his canvas. They become, I mean, so 
amusingly concrete and individual for you ; 
but that is just the inscrutable luxury of your 
book ; and you bring home further, to me, at 
least, who had never so fully felt it, what a 
difficult and precarious, and even might-not-have 
been, Revolution it was, altogether, as a Revolu- 
tion. Wasn't it as nearly as possible not being 
that, whatever else it might have been ? The 
Tail might in time have taken to wagging the 
dog if the Tail could only, as seemed so easy, 
have been left on ! But I didn't mean to embark 
on these reflections. I only wanted really to 
make you feel a little responsible for my being, 
through living with you this succession of placid 
country evenings, far from the London ravage, 
extravagantly agitated. But take your responsi- 
bility philosophically ; recall me to the kind 
consideration of Lady Trevelyan, and believe 
me very constantly yours, HENRY JAMES> 



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